RALEIGH, NC (NCDOJ) -- A contractor with a long history of problems has been found in contempt for violating a court order that banned him from paving work in North Carolina, Attorney General Roy Cooper said today.
"Businesses that rip off consumers and violate court orders time and time again have no business operating in our state and should face full punishment under the law," Cooper said.
Tommy Edward Clack has repeatedly pressured consumers into paying too much for shoddy driveway paving. For years, Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division has fought to stop Clack from scamming North Carolina homeowners. In June of 2010, Cooper won a court order permanently barring Clack and his associates from all residential paving work in the state.
But Clack violated that ban, and at Cooper's request Wake County Superior Court Judge Michael J. O'Foghludha this week found Clack guilty of civil contempt. He must repay his two victims $79,600 or go to jail for at least 90 days. That 90-day period can be renewed if he still has not repaid them.
Judge O’Fughludha also cited Clack for criminal contempt for failing to show up for his civil contempt hearing as ordered. Clack must appear before Wake County Senior Resident Superior Court Donald W. Stephens on June 27 at 10:00 AM to show why he should not be found in criminal contempt and ordered to jail for an additional six months, plus pay a fine.
Today’s order of civil contempt was granted based on information from two homeowners who said that Clack charged them for driveway work after the ban was in place. An 81-year-old homeowner in Chatham County paid Clack $7,600 to pave her small driveway in July of 2010. In March of 2011, a Greensboro homeowner paid Clack $72,000 for driveway work. Clack allegedly used false names in both cases to try to hide his identity and evade the ban, calling himself Ray Tillman and Tommy Clark.
Consumer complaints to Cooper’s office illustrate how Clack usually operates. Clack claims that he is already in the neighborhood and will charge them low price because he has materials left from other jobs. Clack’s crew then begins work as soon as the contract is signed and completes the job quickly using poor quality materials.
Under state law, consumers have three days to cancel most purchases sold door-to-door, but many consumers who’ve dealt with Clack say they didn’t feel like they could cancel once the work was underway. Consumers who tried to cancel and get a refund report that Clack is generally uncooperative.
Clack initially operated in the Wilmington area. Cooper first filed suit against Clack in 2007, winning an injunction in March 2008 that compelled him to pay $50,000 and correct previous substandard paving jobs. Clack then relocated to Greensboro, where more problems surfaced. That led to a November 2008 court order that required him to wait at least four days after a written contract was signed before beginning work.
Following the November 2008 court order, Clack moved his business to South Carolina. He faces a four-count criminal indictment out of Florence County, SC for defrauding four victims in that state out of sums ranging from $16,000 to $30,000. He is currently thought to be in Maryland, where he is wanted for arrest in Anne Arundel County on charges related to driveway paving work.
In North Carolina, local District Attorneys have the authority to bring criminal charges. The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division has the authority to bring civil cases against unfair and deceptive business practices.
"If your driveway needs paving, find a reputable contractor to do the work instead of going with a stranger who knocks on your door," Cooper said. "Protect yourself from home repair scams by getting written estimates, checking references, and saying no to high-pressure sales pitches."
To check out a home repair company or file a complaint against one, North Carolina consumers can call (877) 5-NO-SCAM toll-free within state. Consumers can also file a complaint online at http://www.ncdoj.gov.