‘We’ve paid 33,000′: Nearly a dozen out tens of thousands after pool contractor leaves work unfinished
WBTV Investigates: Should the local contractor have a license in the first place?
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Nearly a dozen people are still waiting for pools that were never built after paying tens of thousands of dollars.
WBTV Investigates started digging into a pair of local contractors who took people’s money for work that was never finished.
WBTV Investigative Reporter David Hodges found the builder whose license was being used by pool contractor A&S Pools and Pavers gave misleading information on his license applications, raising questions about whether he should have had a license in the first place.
All of the information was right at the fingertips of the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors but the records indicate they missed the ball.
By the time the customers were able to connect the dots, they’d already forked over thousands of dollars that they’ll likely never see again.
After weeks of waiting, and months passed the deadline, customer Janet Hadjar is left with an unfinished pool after hiring a contractor.
The last work done was a retaining wall.
“And that’s all we got for the month of September and we haven’t seen him since,” Hadjar said.
“And today’s December 1st, and I mean, this is just not where close to completion?” Hodges asked Hadjar.
“No, no, not at all,” Hadjar said.
Hadjar’s backyard looks like an active construction zone that’s been abandoned. The pool is nothing more than a dirt hole with cinder blocks and holes surrounding it.
Hadjar hired A&S Pools and Pavers after seeing an ad for the company in a mailer.
Unlike many other companies that have been difficult to schedule, she found the owner Mario Salmeron accessible.
Construction moved fast in April but then slowed down just as quickly as the reasons for delays started rolling in.
“We were believing his excuses basically and he said, ‘OK, we can get it done by the end of September,” Hadjar said.
“And about how much have you paid out so far?” Hodges asked
“We’ve paid $33,000,” Hadjar responded.
WBTV Investigates started digging into the company to see how many people were having the same problems.
On its website, the company claims it is licensed but we couldn’t find any license attached to the owner or business.
But then we started searching permits and found a completely different company name listed on them.
“Had you ever heard the name Leonard Gabbidon before?” Hodges asked Hadjar.
“No, I had not,” she said.
The permits were pulled by a company called Gabbidon Construction or Gabbidon Builders, both owned by Leonard Gabbidon.
WBTV Investigates started calling people who recently had pool permits pulled under that name and found 10, with only one pool completed by the company so far.
Gabbidon did have a general contractor license but records obtained by WBTV raise questions about whether he should have one.
In 2020, Gabbidon filed for bankruptcy under Gabbidon Builders.
When he filed to renew his license under that company with the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors, he disclosed he had a bankruptcy.
But just a few months later, he filed for another license with a different company and did not disclose the bankruptcy. He also did not disclose any past failed businesses or issues with creditors.
Records from the licensing board show that, eventually, the board filed its own complaint stating he did not disclose important financial information and instead misled them on his application.
In a phone call with WBTV, Gabbidon said he was honest with the board because he disclosed the bankruptcy on a previous form.
“If I said no on the previous application, then it would be hiding something,” Gabbidon told WBTV. “I was not hiding anything,” Baggidon said.
This is the third time WBTV has found that the licensing board has failed to uncover bankruptcy before granting a contractor a license.
WBTV Investigates previously reported the owner of Charlotte Fiberglass pools was granted a license despite not disclosing a bankruptcy on his application filing.
More than 40 customers lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
We also found the owner of GJK Building and Remodeling failed to disclose liens, bankruptcies and federal charges before stiffing subcontractors tens of thousands of dollars.
“I’m a bit surprised that this even got this far,” Hadjar said. “So when I found out that he was using another contractors license, I was just shocked.”
WBTV reached out to the licensing board to find out again what they’re doing to protect consumers. The responses came from Secretary Frank Wiesner.
WBTV Investigates: What is NCLBGC’s plan to protect consumers and validate the information provided by qualifiers in applications and renewal forms?
N.C. Licensing Board for General Contractors: “Each applicant is required to verify the truthfulness of the information contained in their application. Due to the volume of applications and renewals, coupled with the fact that a vast majority of applicants are completely honest on their applications, the Board does not have sufficient staffing to confirm every detail in every application. However, if the Board subsequently learns that an applicant was untruthful on an application or a licensee was untruthful on renewal, a complaint will be opened, investigated, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
WBTV Investigates: Is there any communication between the complaints division and licensing division to ensure qualifiers submitting applications are not under investigation?
N.C. Licensing Board for General Contractors: “The licensing department has access to information regarding current and past investigations in the licensing database.”
WBTV Investigates: What is the status of Gabbidon Builders and how did the license become invalid?
N.C. Licensing Board for General Contractors: “License #75808 issued to Gabbidon Builders became invalid on 9/2/21 due to the fact that the license has no qualifier. On 6/7/21 Mr. Gabbidon was dropped as qualifier for the license which triggered a provision of NCGS 87-10 that provides a 90-day period of time for the licensee to replace a dropped qualifier before the license shall become invalid. The license remains invalid today.”
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