ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — The complaints keep rolling in against Pensacola contractors Matthew Banks and Jesse LaCoste. On Wednesday, the Escambia County Contractor Competency Board will hear six more complaints against the contractors, all saying that they took money without completing the project.
The first homeowner, John Hutchinson, said in Jan. 2022, he contracted with LaCoste to provide certain labor, material and services at the owner’s property on Oakmont Drive in Pensacola. The project was priced on a stipulated basis of $59,125 and was a master bathroom remodel project.
“At LaCoste’s request I furnished a deposit of $17,000 on Jan. 31, 2022,” Hutchinson said in the complaint. “Since that time no work has been completed at the property. I have made several requests to LaCoste to begin work and I was promised on multiple occasions during the period of January to April 2022 that work would be begin in earnest. However, no work has ever been completed. To the best of my knowledge no permits were ever applied for or acquired by LaCoste.”
By April 2022, Hutchinson was increasingly frustrated and demanded either LaCoste commence work or refund the deposit and cancel the contract.
“I am aware that Mr. LaCoste is currently incarcerated and upon information and belief has been in jail since mid-May,” Hutchinson said in the complaint. “Nevertheless, my project should have been substantially complete before May 2022 and also my request for performance pre-dates Mr. LaCoste’s recent arrest.
Mr. LaCoste took a significant deposit from me and has been unable or unwilling to return the deposit or furnish any evidence of work he completed on my project. Negotiations began in October and the Contract is dated January. Therefore, in the eight months since I began working with LaCoste and five months my project has been under contract no work has been completed.”
According to Escambia County Jail records, LaCoste is currently not in prison, but has been arrested four times since Aug. 24, 2019. Once for a moving traffic violation, once for a generic statute, once for an out-of-county warrant and once for cruelty towards a child, which he is currently on probation for until 2023.
The next complaint was also against LaCoste. Michael Moss said he hired LaCoste Construction group to perform renovation on his home on Mackey Key Dr. In Aug. 2021, Moss paied a $24,000 deposit and has had three start dates come and go without any work done.
According to the complaint, once Moss learned LaCoste was in jail, they decided to fire him for breach of contract on June 13, 2022.
On Jan. 13, 2022, Willie and Keleita Stephens entered a contract with LaCoste to repair channel rot in their laundry room drain. According to the complaint, LaCoste hired J&M Plumbing to do the initial work of repair after the Stephens signed over their insurance check in the amount of $11,373.53 to LaCoste. The complaint said LaCoste has not paid the plumber nor completed the repairs. The Stephens said debris from sewer line access still lies on the patio, concrete is not repaired nor has the flooring been replaced in their bonus room or laundry room. They said no work has been performed by LaCoste since May 2022.
Donald Dellinger with ComeBack Restoration alleged that Lacoste failed to pay for moisture mapping and mold analysis reporting services, which ComeBack Restoration was subtracted through LaCoste. Dellinger said LaCoste billed, and was paid, for those services, through insurance proceeds that LaCoste filed on behalf of LaCoste clients. He stated that he is owed approximately $86,000 from LaCoste and has been forced to place Claims of Lein’s against approximately 20 property owners that were clients of LaCoste.
Banks also has two complaints filed against him that will be heard at the CCB meeting tomorrow. Mryla Benjamin signed a contract in May 2020, with a 50 percent deposit of $30,000. Work began Sept. 2020, then she alleges it would stop and would go for weeks and months before work would begin again. Benjamin said she notified Banks about lack of work progress and got excuse after excuse, and said it took almost a year before a new concrete slab got poured.
In Sept. 2021, Benjamin said partial framing was delivered and three walls framed, and nine incorrect windows were installed. All of it was left open to the elements and to this day, no roof was ever installed, according to Benjamin.
On Sept. 10, 2021, Benjamin said Banks requested a second draw for trusses and roofing materials. She said she paid him $15,000. On Jan. 2022, Benjamin said Milton Truss placed a lein on her house for lack of truss payment.
After numerous emails with various project managers concerning the lack of progress, paying for materials she didn’t receive and poor-quality workmanship, Benjamin said she terminated the contract. She said she asked for a refund of $45,000 and has heard nothing from Banks.
The last complaint against Banks is from Brandon and April Amos. According to the Escambia County Building Service Staff, the Amos’s contracted with Banks on December 3, 2021, to build a new single-family dwelling. They said the total cost of the work contained in the contract was $360,750, with a start date of 30 to 60 days after the loan closing.
On Jan. 27, 2022, Amos’s mortgage lender issued an initial disbursement of $36,075, to Banks Construction. On June 3, 2022, due to no work at all being performed, Amos sent a certified demand letter to Banks, cancelling the contract and demanding an itemized statement, return of funds, plans and associated documents related to the contract. According to the Amos’s, Banks said they broke the contract out of convenience and had no ground for termination.
Wednesday at the CCB meeting, Banks also has three disciplinary hearings scheduled. Both Banks and LaCoste already have had their licenses revoked by Escambia County and Santa Rosa County.