A contractor operating in southwest Michigan and northern Indiana was sentenced in Cass County Circuit Court on Friday, Aug. 9, 2019, for using false pretenses to defraud or cheat money from customers.
Jeffrey Burks, 56, was sentenced to three years of probation as part of a plea agreement in the case. The court also said he is not allowed to reopen his business All Tech Roof Repair and Roof Sealants.
A count of false pretenses was dropped as part of the plea.
Burks has faced several other similar and criminal cases over the past several decades and was labeled a habitual offender by the court.
Criminal charges were filed against Burks in 1996, 1997 and 1999 include false pretenses and contractor fraud.
Burks was also charged with operating without a license in 1997 and 1999.
Prosecutors in the case said Burks had displayed a pattern of the behavior over many years and needed to be stopped.
According to victim impact statements, Burks told customers he was licensed and insured, despite not holding the required license.
The victims said he also refused to complete work or issue refunds.
"Because of his intentional deception, his numerous lies, his lack of integrity, his blatant neglect in protecting our home, my confidence in my decision making has been shattered," a victim said.
All Tech holds an ‘F’ rating with the Better Business Bureau with numerous complaints claiming he didn’t complete the work he was paid to do.
Burks told court in St. Joseph County, Indiana court in 2016 that he filed for bankruptcy and closed his business. Despite this, he continued to solicit and accept roofing jobs under a slightly different business name.
Troy Baker with the BBB said it’s important for customers to do research and check reviews before hiring a contractor.
“You can't take their word for it. A lot of unscrupulous contractors and roofers will lie to you and tell you they are what they aren't, so you need to do the research yourself,” Baker said.
Baker said it’s important for people to ensure contractors are licensed before giving them any money.
The state of Michigan has a searchable online database to check licenses.