BARTOW, Fla.- The state Attorney General’s office is investigating a trailer company that WINK News Call for Action found took more than $147,000 from customers and never delivered the product they ordered.
State documents show Husky Cargo registered as a business with the state of Florida May 2013, but two years later customers said the company stopped delivering trailers they had purchased. The company, which was based out of Bartow Airport advertised as a manufacturer of customized trailers. Complaints filed with the Attorney General’s Office show the company took orders from people all over the country, including a school district in Illinois.
One of their customers was a Charlotte County charity Peace River K9 Search and Rescue. The non-profit is compromised of dozens of volunteers, who search for missing loved-ones. The group has divers, K9s and even horses they can use to assist law enforcement in searches. The founder, Mike Hadsell said he put a down payment of $2,000 for a trailer May 7, 2015. Hadsell said the trailer was intended to be the team’s mobile command center to store gear and use as a meeting place for the team to rest and get out of the heat. In the order confirmation from Husky Cargo, it stated the estimated completion date was June 18, 2015.
However, Hadsell said nearly three months went by and he never received his trailer. When he reached out to the company, he got this response.
“They said their company had been seized by the creditors and that they were shutdown and not able to fulfill orders,” he explained. “I contacted the [Bartow] airport manager and talked to her because the park is part of the airport, and she was very helpful and she said ‘oh, there’s a lot of people standing out there trying to get their trailers right now.'”
Call for Action investigators discovered just this year, the Florida Attorney General’s Office and local police have received 34 complaints about the company totaling $147,000. One complaint filed by Dunlap school district in Peoria, IL said they paid $26,000 for band trailers and never received them.
In a conversation with the AG’s office, a school employee said, “[they] were told [the trailer] was ready and then the company just seemed to disappear.”
Most of the stories were similar to the school district, but Call for Action investigators did find a few customers who had received their trailers but were unhappy. David Barnicoat lives in Cape Coral and ordered his trailer Jan. 2015. The retired building inspector said when he got the trailer in April it was rusted, falling apart and leaking. He said his experience with the company was unprofessional.
“It was like a bunch of amateurs. Really I mean we even saw them do the final touch-up like 16, 18-year-old kids doing the spray painting, trying with a can and stuff like that. They definitely didn’t know what they were doing,” Barnicoat said. “They wanted me to sign a waiver stating that I would not go public with any kind of negative statements about the quality of the trailer or the anything to do with their company regarding this trailer. Of course I did not sign it.”
After going through state documents and database searches, Call for Action found two men listed as the original owners of Husky Cargo: Michael Gatewood and Dwayne Pass. They also found the ‘mystery creditor” was Mike Gatewood’s dad Cliff Gatewood.
Our investigators went to Bartow and the Tampa area to try to speak with the owners of Husky Cargo or the creditor.
Mike Gatewood and Dwayne Pass declined our request to speak with us on camera. When we asked the creditor Cliff Gatewood about his son taking customers’ money and then not delivering he said, “That’s not true but anyhow.”
He then told us to contact his lawyer Marshall Rainey, who told us over the phone Dwayne Pass ran the business into the ground and was terminated in May. Pass confirmed he had been terminated in May but had a different story, saying Mike Gatewood ran the business into the ground and then suddenly removed Pass from the business.
As for all the customers who paid thousands for a trailer, Rainey said this.
“Um, they lost their money because someone took deposits from them that had no business taking from them.”
As for Peace River K9 Search and Rescue they said a hit like this was devastating to their charity, which runs on donations. Hadsell explained they had spent most of the year fundraising for that money and now it was gone.
If you would like to help Peace River K9 Search and Rescue, click here.