ATLANTA — A local contractor turned out to be an ex-con. But the people who hired him to build their homes had no idea.
Now they say they're victims.
Daryl Williams had a plan to build his dream home on a lot in Paulding County. He gave builder Jason Harvey more than $45,000 as a deposit. Harvey was supposed to use it to put a down payment on the lot and start work.
He hired someone to grade the lot. Then, nothing.
"When things started going south is when we found out the lots were never purchased," Williams said.
He added, "We're never going to see this money again."
When Channel 2 Consumer Investigator Jim Strickland asked Williams, "Where do you suspect it is?"
Williams replied, "Long gone."
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Sule Salami is Harvey's client across the street from Williams' lot.
He gave Harvey nearly $140,000.
"The first check I gave to him was the deposit to get a plan for the house. And the second one was, 'Let's go ahead and start getting the grading done,’" Salami said. "My life savings? Stolen from me."
Harvey has a different interpretation.
"Our company did a very bad job of handling their money. We did not steal their money," he told Strickland.
Strickland tracked Harvey down at his home.
Harvey told Strickland, "Nobody went to Mexico. Nobody went and got hookers or drugs or anything like that. We did a poor job managing our business."
Here's how poor: Even as Harvey was collecting money from Williams and Salami, his recent bankruptcy filing shows he owes $292,000 on a loan to build two different houses.
Those records show Harvey has been sued several times over his business dealings. But Williams didn't file suit. He called the Sheriff's Department.
It's not the first time someone has called the cops about Harvey.
His criminal record stems from a guilty plea for stealing his father's identity.
Records show he admitted to police that he was in trouble and needed some fast money.
Despite the guilty plea, Harvey told Strickland he did not steal his father's identity.
Not long after our interview, deputies arrested Harvey over Williams' missing money. Again, he says he's innocent.
"I hope when this is all over with and I'm proven innocent that you work just as hard as you're working right now, to put it on the news that I was innocent," Harvey said as he was led away in handcuffs.
Cox Media Group