CARRBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- Criminal charges continue to stack up against Jorge Alberto Garcia, the unlicensed contractor at the center of a Troubleshooter Investigation.
The latest charges involve a homeowner in Carrboro.
Not only is Garcia charged with obtaining property under False pretenses and failure to work after being paid, but Garcia's wife, Helen Flores, is also charged in connection with the case.
The charges involve the work that Carrboro homeowner Curt Torell said was not done at his home.
"Don't be stupid like I was," Torell said. "Don't have this guy do work for you."
'FELL RIGHT INTO THIS TRAP'
Torell said Garcia showed up at his home one day.
"He was just driving by the neighborhood, offered to do the roof, to just clean out the pine needles, thirty dollars," Torell said.
That $30 job quickly ballooned to so much more as Garcia said there was more work to be done.
"He mentioned about the chimney that needed to be done; he was going to paint the whole thing. He was going to do all this work on the windows, glazing, caulking, replacing these two windows," Torell said.
The job got so big that Torell ended up paying Garcia more than $25,000 to do the work. He paid Garcia in three separate checks, two of those checks were made out to Garcia's wife.
Torell said Garcia told him to do that since she's the one that handles the account and pays the laborers.
Garcia and his crew did some of the work, including re-doing and painting the deck, but when it came to the big tasks, such as painting the whole home and replacing the windows, Curt says Garcia and his crews stopped showing up.
"I fell right into this trap, and I got hooked, and I got hooked even deeper," Torell said.
ONLINE RESEARCH REVEALS PAST TROUBLES
He went online and did some research, and that's where he found several ABC11 stories showing Garcia's customers who are still owed money for jobs he never finished for them. Also, how Garcia is facing several criminal charges when it comes to taking money for jobs and not completing the work.
During my original story, Garcia called his business J & J Home Improvement. For Torell's job, for which he had a sign in the yard, he uses JH Home Improvement.
Torell said that as soon as he told Garcia he contacted the Troubleshooter, he got his attention.
"He was very nervous and upset," Torell said. "He must have sent me 30 texts, 'don't go to Diane. I'll do anything.'"
A FAMILIAR FACE TO TROUBLESHOOTER
Garcia sent several text messages to Torell that indicated he wants to pay Torell back, and in one text even sent a picture of a $12,000 check that he said he would drop off. But Torell said Garcia hasn't paid him a dime back of the money promised.
"I trusted somebody. I had faith in them. I fell for it," Torell said. "I've been kicking myself ever since. It's affecting me physically, emotionally."
We tried to track down Garcia and his wife. The address Garcia lists for his new business led us to a Mexican restaurant in Durham, a restaurant Helen Flores owns.
Neither Garcia nor Flores were in, but a worker did get her on the phone. She would not answer any questions; she just directed me to Garcia's attorney, who also won't comment.
As for Torell, he said it's tough to realize he may never see any money back. But that's not stopping him from trying to stop Garcia.
"I don't want him doing what he has done to me to other people," Torell said.
WHEELS OF JUSTICE TURN SLOWLY
The question Torell, and many others have, is how can Garcia keep doing this?
The more than a dozen criminal charges that Garcia is facing are working their way through the justice system.
Likewise with the state's Licensing Board of General Contractors as it tells the Troubleshooter its investigation is also working its way through the court system.
The bottom line, before hiring anyone, you need to do your research. In this case, Torell did that research, but it was too late as he had already handed over all of that money.