Thursday, June 11, 2009
7 News Investigations: Hurricane Heartache
Hurricane season is upon us, and now is the time to make preparations, but some South Florida homeowners who had hoped to have hurricane windows and shutters for this year say the company they hired took their money and ran, and now police are investigating. Seven's Carmel Cafiero has the story you will see on Just One Station.
WSVN -- Here in South Florida we have learned the hard way. Your beautiful weather can become dangerous weather when a hurricane hits, so protecting our homes is crucial this time of year, but finding the right company to do the work can be difficult.
Vera Brodie: "It's upsetting to me."
Vera and Keith Brodie put down a deposit of 87,500 with Tom Davidson of Davidson Hurricane Protection in Coral Springs, but after that, she says, she only talked to him one time.
Vera Brodie: "He picked up the phone and said, 'Vera, I don't know what to tell you. I've been getting your calls. I don't have the money, and there's a lot of people ahead of you I owe.'"
They say, they got nothing for their money.
Keith Brodie: "I'd come home to this everyday. She was getting real torn up about it."
And they're not alone. World War II vet Fred Richards says he put down $2,500 with Davidson Hurricane Protection and got nothing in return.
Fred Richards: "I'd call and leave messages, but I never would hear anything."
Carmel Cafiero: "So he just kind of ignored you?
Fred Richards: "Yes, yes."
Dr. Larry Kawa: "Oh, I know I was stolen from. There's no ability to contact him."
Orthodontist Dr. Larry Kawa says between deposits on his home and his parents home, his family paid Davidson Hurricane Protection more than $17,000 in deposits, but no work was ever done.
Dr. Larry Kawa: "I think it's a very poor reflection on our society."
He says the work was supposed to be finished last month.
Dr. Larry Kawa: "May 15th came and went. We never got in contact with him, never saw his face. He never answered his phone."
Kawa's attorney, Jeff Galvan, says other customers have told him the same story.
Jeff Galvan: "We have to find out why he didn't take the steps to complete the work."
And now Davidson's business practices are being questioned by the Broward Sheriff's Office.
Detective Danny Belyeu: "We have started an initial criminal investigation into, you know, Davidson Hurricane Protection."
Detective Danny Belyeu believes there may be more people with problems.
Detective Danny Belyeu: "I've been given an indication in my initial part of my investigation that there are other victims who have issues or complaints."
The Davidson office is closed. The company's trucks sit idle. A sign on the door gives the name and number of an attorney, but she turned down our request for an interview. This is the message we got from her secretary:
Attorney's Secretary: "For reasons of attorney client privileges."
But I did track down Davidson's wife Shirley, who, state records show, is the company's secretary.
Carmel Cafiero: "I'd like to talk to you about your business, your hurricane protection business. Please, why don't you just wait for one second. You're a corporate officer here? People say that they've given your husband money and gotten nothing in return."
She wasn't talking.
Carmel Cafiero: "Why are you running away?"
Shirley Davidson: "I'm not running away."
Carmel Cafiero: "Well, then why don't you talk with us please and just tell us what's going on with the company? We've not been able to get any explanation."
And that's the same reaction attorney Jeff Galvan says he got when he reached Mrs. Davidson on the telephone.
Jeff Galvan: "I was promptly told not to call back. We don't have any money and hung up the phone."
Carmel Cafiero: "BSO's economic crimes unit won't be so easy to dismiss. Detective Belyeu says he is looking for other victims and then will determine what if any criminal charges should be filed."