A New Mexico family was ripped off by a man they knew and trusted, who agreed to do work on their home. Turns out, they’re not alone.
At least three unlicensed contractors were hit with criminal charges in April. It’s not a violent crime, but it’s a crime nonetheless, and Tamne Robinson hopes her story will prevent it from happening to others.
The Robinsons trusted Elmer Aragon to fix and modify their weather-damaged Tijeras home’s roof.
“I had done his business cards. I had done some other various things with him. And I hired him to do the stucco on my house,” she said.
They didn’t expect it to end in criminal charges.
“We paid him money in December, we paid him money in January…nothing happened until March,” Tamne explained. “We were calling him every day, ‘We gotta get started on it. Where are you?'”
The money came through insurance, with Aragon quoting the work at roughly $30,000. By spring 2018, he had $15,000 in his pocket. He finally got to work last summer, she said, but did only two things.
“He dug a hole for the footings, but he never came back and put those footings in. And he cut out a piece of stucco in my wall where the beam was going to be attached to,” she explained, showing KRQE News 13. He simply disappeared after that.
Meanwhile, the family is in need of a new roof. The current shingles are old, damaged and flying off and need to be replaced.
“Sheet metal roofing. It’s sturdier, it’s more durable, definitely stand up better in the wind than the shingles will,” Tamne said.
And now, the roof isn’t the only problem. When it rains, Aragon didn’t leave the family just high and dry—but very wet.
“We’ve got a bucket inside where it’s just pouring straight in the house,” she said, pointing to the part of the house where the stucco is missing.
After some research, the Robinsons contacted the state’s Construction Industries Division. Turns out, Aragon is not a licensed contractor.
“The broken trust I think hurts the most. More than the loss of 15 grand. I think it’s the broken trust that hurts the most,” she said.
The crucial thing to note here is the statute of limitations on cases like this: one year. The Robinsons barely made it in time.
The other two men being prosecuted for working as contractors without a license are Jose Duran and Anthony Perea. That case is out of Rio Rancho and allegedly took place in January of this year.
For more information on the NM CID and checking to see if your contractor is licensed, click here.