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Reports of contractor fraud expected to ramp up as hurricane repairs move ahead

Reports of contractor fraud expected to ramp up as hurricane repairs move ahead
Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 8:48 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Cyndi Drachmann needed a roof for her house in a subdivision off Lake Street. She says she gave Kermit Joseph Leger $8,000 to buy roofing materials, but she never saw him again. Meanwhile a roofing crew removed shingles from her hurricane-damaged house.

“He never showed up. He sent roofers out. To remove the old shingles. Come 3 o’clock there was no Joey, 3:30 no Joey. He wasn’t answering my phone calls, my text messages,” Drachmann said.

Drachmann says she wound up shelling out more money to get her roof completed and pay the workers.

Calcasieu District Attorney Stephen Dwight says such behavior is criminal.

“Them materially misrepresenting the work that they were going to do or that they actually performed. Actually, entering into an agreement with a contractor or someone you believe to be a contractor, but they don’t hold any Louisiana license, or anything like that; that is contractor fraud,” Dwight said.

He and the sheriff are setting up a task for to handle such cases.

“We’ve been taking in a lot of complaints. The sheriff’s department has already taken in over 100 complaints for contractor fraud in this area, and we see it to only ramp up from this point forward,” he said.

While the law provides for victims getting their money back, it is not a sure bet. Drachmann says she’s happy Leger was arrested and speaks out to alert others.

“He has been doing this to other people, and now they can put a stop to it,” she said.

Authorities in several parishes, including Calcasieu, are investigating Leger. He also faces legal problems in Acadia, Iberia, St. Martin, and St. Mary parishes.

Drachmann says many had been trying to find Leger and that, at one point, a message was sent from his phone that he had been killed in a car accident. According to some who were trying to contact Leger, the text from Leger’s phone read, “This is Joeys fiance’. He passed away four months ago in a vehicle accident. I’m really sorry about your roof.” Actually, Leger is in jail in Lafayette.

Details about the Contractor Task Force are expected to be announced soon by Dwight and Sheriff Tony Mancuso.

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