More than a half million dollars paid for incomplete hurricane repairs

Reporter: Lauren Sweeney
Published: Updated:
Credit: Matt Braunstein

A company from Indiana collected at least $565,478 to fix hurricane Irma damage for homeowners and businesses who were under the impression they were affiliated with a licensed local contractor.

Months after handing over his entire first insurance draw to Remodeling Services and Complete Restoration in October, Matt Braunstein stood in his living room and watched water drip down from his ceiling.

RSACR was supposed to repair Braunstein’s roof, pool cage and several shattered windows in his home.

Credit: Matt Braunstein

“I don’t have $18,000 sitting around. That’s why I’m sitting here in June/July and don’t have a lot of work completed,” said Braunstein one of at least twenty Southwest Florida homeowners who contracted with Remodeling Services and Complete Restoration, RSACR.

Braunstein said he was confident in hiring RSACR because they presented documentation to show they were working under a licensed local contractor: Star Construction.

After months of waiting for repairs to begin and not getting anywhere with RSACR, he and other homeowners said they contacted Star Construction to try to get their money back.

“(Star) said Lindy didn’t work for him and he’d never heard of me,” said Linda Elms, a Bonita Springs resident who paid RSACR $9,000 for hurricane repairs.

In fact, Star’s attorney sent out a lengthy letter to dozens of homeowners explaining that RSACR was not authorized to create contracts or take money using Star’s name.

“It’s unfortunate that the homeowners had these representations made to them, and I can see how the optics look pretty bad,” said Kevin Jursinski, an attorney representing Star Construction.

Jursinski said contracts that had both companies’ logos were forged and permits in Marco Island were pulled without the knowledge or permission of Star Construction owner James Pickens.

Pickens has been a certified general contractor in Florida since 2013, according to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Pickens told DBPR investigators in April that he had used RSACR as a subcontractor on various jobs in the past outside of the state of Florida. He explained that he gave his business card that had Star’s name and license number on it to RSACR.

Credit: Matt Braunstein

“It was to be used to show potential customers that Star was a registered and licensed contractor in the state of Florida,” wrote Pickens, who went on to say “they were not authorized to write or sign any contracts or accept any payment whatsoever.”

Mike Clark, the president for RSACR, told state investigators a different version of events. He explained in a lengthy statement that Pickens owed him money for past collaborations.

“When payments were made to RSACR Jim’s 50 percent share was applied to what he owed my business,” wrote Clark.

The DBPR also has record of an agreement for Clark to pull permits as an authorized representative of Star in Lee County.

Anglin told WINK News she was an employee working under the direction of Pickens and Clark at all times and denies any allegations of wrongdoing.

She was sent a cease and desist letter by the DBPR in June for unlicensed activity and forwarded the information to the State Attorney’s office for possible prosecution.

WINK News could not locate any licenses for Anglin or Clark in Florida or Indiana, where RSACR is based.

Jursinski said because the contracts Clark and Anglin entered into with homeowners were not authorized by Star Construction, he did not feel the money could be recovered through a liability claim on Star’s insurance.

“I don’t think there is a remedy where they are going to remit payment for a bad actor that used our name under these circumstances, because there is an exclusion in the policy for that,” said Jursinski.

However, other consumer law attorneys told WINK News they felt homeowners might be able to recover damages if they filed suit against Star.

A handful of homeowners said they were able to dispute payments made to RSACR with their credit card companies, and charges were reversed.

One woman said she made her check out to both RSACR and Star Construction, and her bank reversed the check when only RSACR endorsed the check.

The Collier County Sheriff’s office and the Marco Island Police department confirmed to WINK News there is an active case into this situation involving more than 35 victims.

The State Attorney’s office said they are aware of the situation, but could not comment further.

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