CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – Almost a dozen people are still waiting for pools that were never built after paying tens of thousands of dollars.
WBTV Investigates began digging into a pair of local contractors who took people’s money for a job that was never finished.
WBTV investigative reporter David Hodges discovered that the builder whose license was being used by swimming pool contractor A&S Pools and Pavers had misrepresented its license applications, raising questions about whether he should have had a license in the first place.
Document: Application from Gabbidon Construction, LLC to practice as a general contractor in North Carolina
All the information was at the fingertips of the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors, but records indicate they missed the ball.
By the time customers were able to connect the dots, they had already shelled out thousands of dollars that they will likely never see again.
After weeks of waiting and months after the deadline, client Janet Hadjar finds herself with an unfinished pool after hiring a contractor.
The last work carried out was a retaining wall.
“And that’s all we have for September and we haven’t seen him since,” Hadjar said.
“And today, December 1, and I mean, it’s just not that close to completion?” Hodges asked Hadjar.
âNo, no, not at all,â said Hadjar.
Hadjar’s backyard looks like an active construction area that has been abandoned. The pool is nothing more than a hole in the ground with cinder blocks and holes surrounding it.
Document: Gabbidon Construction, LLC Contract License Letter
Hadjar hired A&S Pools and Pavers after seeing an ad for the company in a direct mail.
Unlike many other businesses that have been difficult to program, she has found owner Mario Salmeron approachable.
Construction progressed rapidly in April, but then slowed down as quickly as the reasons for the delays began to manifest.
âWe basically believed his apology and he said, ‘OK, we can do it by the end of September,’ Hadjar said.
“And about how much have you paid so far?” Hodges asked
âWe paid $ 33,000,â Hadjar replied.
Document: Complaint against Gabbidon Construction, LLC
WBTV Investigates started digging into the business to see how many people were having the same issues.
On its website, the company claims that it is licensed, but we could not find any licenses attached to the owner or the company.
But then we started looking for permits and found a completely different company name on them.
“Have you heard of Leonard Gabbidon’s name before?” Hodges asked Hadjar.
âNo, I didn’t,â she said.
The permits were withdrawn by a company called Gabbidon Construction or Gabbidon Builders, both owned by Leonard Gabbidon.
WBTV Investigates started calling people who had recently obtained pool licenses under this name and found 10, with only one pool completed by the company so far.
Gabbidon had a general contractor’s license, but records obtained by WBTV raise questions as to whether he should have one.
In 2020, Gabbidon filed for bankruptcy under Gabbidon Builders.
When he applied for the renewal of his license under that company from the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors, he disclosed that he had gone bankrupt.
But a few months later, he applied for another license from another company and did not disclose the bankruptcy. He also did not disclose failed businesses or problems with creditors.
Licensing board records show that ultimately the board filed its own complaint stating that it had not disclosed material financial information and instead misled them about its claim.
During a phone call with WBTV, Gabbidon said he was being honest with the board because he disclosed the bankruptcy on a previous form.
âIf I said no on the previous request, it would be hiding something,â Gabbidon told WBTV. âI wasn’t hiding anything,â Baggidon said.
This is the third time that WBTV has found that the licensing board did not find out about bankruptcy before granting a license to a contractor.
WBTV Investigates previously reported that the owner of Charlotte Fiberglass Pools had been licensed although he did not disclose bankruptcy when filing.
Over 40 clients have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
We also found that the owner of GJK Building and Remodeling did not disclose federal liens, bankruptcies and charges before charging contractors tens of thousands of dollars.
“I am a little surprised that it has gone this far,” said Hadjar. “So when I found out he was using another contractor’s license, I was shocked.”
WBTV has contacted the licensing board to find out again what they are doing to protect consumers. The answers came from Secretary Frank Wiesner.
WBTV Investigation: What is NCLBGC’s plan to protect consumers and validate information provided by qualifiers in renewal applications and forms?
NC Licensing Council for General Contractors: âEach candidate is required to verify the veracity of the information contained in his candidacy. Due to the volume of applications and renewals, coupled with the fact that a large majority of applicants are completely honest about their applications, the Council does not have enough staff to confirm every detail of every application. However, if the Commission subsequently learns that an applicant lied on an application or that a license holder lied on renewal, a complaint will be opened, investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
WBTV Investigating: Is there communication between the Complaints Division and the Licensing Division to ensure applicants who submit applications are not investigated?
NC Licensing Council for General Contractors: “The licensing department has access to information about current and past investigations in the license database.
WBTV inquiry: What is the status of Gabbidon Builders and how did the license become invalid?
NC Licensing Council for General Contractors: “License # 75808 issued to Gabbidon Builders became invalid on 09/21/21 due to the license having no qualifier. On 6/7/21, Mr. Gabbidon was discontinued as a qualifier for the license, which triggered a provision in NCGS 87-10 that provides for a 90-day period for the license holder to replace a qualifier that was abandoned before that the license becomes invalid. The license remains invalid today.
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