Call 11 for Action: Barnes Construction steals thousands - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Barnes Construction leaves customers with empty promises and empty pockets

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TEMPERANCE, MI (WTOL) – Call 11 for Action took a call from a man who felt wronged as he tried to complete his wife's dying wish. Upon further investigation, this was more than just a disagreement between a consumer and company.

"This is my wife's dream. This is what she wanted. And until it's done I won't find any peace in that," said Ronald McPherson.

McPherson has a simple request: He wants his home remodeled because that is what his wife, Helena, wanted. 

"In June, she was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. Her breast cancer came back and we made it clear to them this was to be her retirement home, that we need to have the work done," explained McPherson.

Last July, the McPhersons signed a contract with Chris Barnes of Barnes Construction and gave Barnes a $30,000 deposit. Barnes was supposed to start at the beginning of September redoing the roof, shingles and the back area of the family's home in Temperance.

The work never started. McPherson kept calling and said he kept getting excuses.

"It's been two weeks. We're next. We're doing the best we can but nothing's happened," said McPherson. "As time progressed, I said, ‘Soon she won't be able to walk outside to see the work that will be done.' And they said, ‘We understand your situation. We'll do everything possible to get the work done.'"

The work was never done. Helena died at the beginning of October. As he grieved, McPherson decided he wanted to keep his promise to his wife even if she was not around to see it.

"We were married 35 years and she never wanted anything for herself. This is the only thing she wanted done," said McPherson.

Barnes promised to start work at the end of November, but again, nothing happened.

When McPherson contacted Call 11 for Action, WTOL's Craig Thomas spoke with Chris Barnes and his wife Christina. They promised to start the job on Jan. 8. They never showed up.

Thomas left multiple messages and even went to their office but nobody was there. After returning days later, there was no office to be found. Following further investigation, it was discovered they left, owing their landlord thousands of dollars in rent. Then Thomas went to their home but no one answered.

It also turn out the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation claimed Barnes owed more than $1,000 because he did not pay his state insurance.

Recently, a woman who lives in Sylvania filed a civil lawsuit against Barnes Construction, claiming she gave a down payment of more than $7,500 and the company did not do any work.

There was one more place to turn.

"In this case, where they never start the work - especially given these circumstances - it's a tragic situation, and certainly something that our office would be interested in prosecuting," said Monroe County Prosecutor William Paul Nichols.

Nichols said in most cases, disagreements between consumers and contractors are civil matters that could be solved with civil lawsuits, but a case like this could be an exception.

"When a homeowner contracts with a builder for certain work and no work gets done, then the prosecutor can look at certain charges, such as larceny by conversion or obtaining money under false pretenses," said Nichols.

According to Nichols, both charges would be felonies, but can only come after a police investigation.

McPherson did file a police report but that remains to be determined.

"If he doesn't want to do the work, at least give me my money back so I can get someone else who'll get it done," said McPherson. "I still need to get her dream completed. It's really important to me."

During WTOL's investigation, several other customers were found who claimed Barnes took money and promised to work on their homes, but never did the work.

Barnes Construction also used to be a part of the WTOL "Ask the Expert" program, but was asked to cease using WTOL as a marketing tool for the company. It took the company six months to remove the Ask the Expert logo from its website.

If you would like to report a consumer problem contact Call for Action at 419-255-2255.

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