Contractor bound over on felony theft charge
The victims say they do not want others to go through a similar experience.
JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
HUBBARD -- A Youngstown contractor, accused of taking money from a township couple for work he never did, has been bound over to the Trumbull County grand jury.
John Brown, co-owner of Invision Communication and Construction in Youngstown, appeared in Girard Municipal Court on Wednesday without an attorney and waived his right to a preliminary hearing. Brown is charged with felony theft by deception.
According to Detective Mike Begeot of the Hubbard Township police, Brown agreed to build a porch for Bernard and Debbie Bendzak in May. He said Brown completed about four hours worth of work on the project and never returned to finish the job.
Money not returned
Begeot said the project was estimated to cost about $10,000 to complete. Brown collected more than $4,000 from the couple before starting the work, the detective said.
According to Begeot, police told Brown to return the money to the couple before his preliminary hearing date Wednesday and a recommendation would be made to the prosecutor to reduce the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor. The money, he said, was never returned.
Bernard and Debbie Bendzak said at this point they are doubtful that the money will be returned. The couple, however, hopes no one else loses any money in future dealings with the company.
"Hopefully, with the amount of money we lost and this being a felony, he will learn his lesson and this will not happen again," said Bernard Bendzak.
Bendzak said the matter has been especially hard on his wife, who has multiple sclerosis. He said with the porch unfinished, she is forced to use an entrance to the house with 15 steps instead of the much more accessible porch entrance.
Bendzak said his family just recently moved to the area and were looking to add a porch onto their home when they found Brown's company in the phone book. Bendzak said he also consulted the Better Business Bureau before hiring the company.
A check with the Better Business Bureau showed Invision Communication and Construction to have one complaint on file since 2004. The computerized report said "complaints brought to its attention have been addressed promptly."
Brown said work on the Bendzak home was delayed several times because of weather and contract issues. He said he cannot understand how the issue has gone this far.
"Out of the thousands of customers we have, we have had only one or two complaints this year. This is not a theft and we are not trying to deceive anyone," he said.
Begeot said police have received several other complaints about the company since the Bendzak case has been in the news.