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Dead Man Walking? News10NBC tracks a contractor and finds shocking information

November 22, 2017 12:04 PM

A viewer recently contacted us with a heartbreaking story. She grew up in Rochester and for three decades had longed to return to her childhood home. Finally, she and her husband were able to buy a condo in the area. They hoped to spend more time there after retirement. She hired a contractor to remodel it and had paid him thousands.  But to her dismay, he’d taken her money and done little work.  She came to News10NBC for help.  And soon we discovered she’d hired a dead man walking.

Susan Sipes’ newly-purchased condo sits on the shore of Canandaigua Lake.  She hired A-S Contracting to remodel it.

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"My goddaughter had used him and been happy with him. I thought all the right questions,” Sipes remembered.

The contractor charged her more $24,800 and promised to finish the work in six weeks. The completion date was November 10th. Sipes lives in Seattle.  In text messages, the contractor promised he'd finish early, perhaps even Halloween.  But he refused to send pictures of his progress.  Then he sent a text asking for more money.   So Sipes surprised him - arriving three days before the scheduled completion date.
 
“Oh my Gosh!  It was devastating,” said Sipes describing her reaction when she walked into the condo.  Her condo is supposed to be finished.  Instead she found a toilet in the kitchen, no running water, and wires dangling from sheetrock.

"It's hard to do a project like this long distance where you just can't just stop in every few days and look,” said Sipes.
Sipes says he was introduced to her as Al Bosley.  He sent emails from the email address albosley6969, and he posted photos of the business from a profile named Al Bosley.  Sipes believed that Al Bosley owned A-S Contracting.

“I googled him on line and didn't really come up with anything," Sipes said.  She believed the lack of negative information was likely positive.

News10NBC investigators searched for Al Bosley in government records, social media, the BBB, and the BCB but found nothing. Finally we found the real Al Bosley in an archived record of obituaries.  Alvis Bosley is dead.  He died 17 years ago.

So who is the man Sipes hired to remodel her condo?  His name is Alvis Douglas Sprague.

Consumer Investigator Deanna Dewberry asked Sipes to come to the News10NBC studios so we could show her what we uncovered. Among the information we found was a listing of Alvis Sprague’s relatives.  And there we found the name Alvis Bosley.  So why would Alvis Sprague use the name of a dead relative?  Perhaps he was trying to escape his past.
Alvis Sprague is a four-time felon.  The latest felony, grand larceny, sent him to prison for four years In fact we found 32 court filings against Al Sprague in Monroe County alone.  But that’s not all.

Just last week Monroe County Sheriff's deputies launched an investigation of Sprague in a separate case.  In that case, Sprague is also accused of taking payment for work he didn't do.  
A-S Contracting has an F rating with the BBB.

But Al Sprague isn't listed as the owner of the business. Instead, it lists his live-in girlfriend, Sarah Crawford. She wasn't at home when I visited the couple.  But a relative confirmed Sprague and Crawford both live at a home on Rogene Street in Greece.

News10NBC investigator Deanna Dewberry reached Sprague by text.  He concedes that he did use his father's name, Al Bosley, in online postings and email.  He said he created the email address "cause I (sic) missed my father n (sic) still do." 

He points to the fact he did sign a proposal with his real name.  And he insists he does great work texting. "your (sic) not dealing with one of these rip off contractors with alcohol or drug problems!!!!”

But two of 4 of Sprague’s felonies are for DWI.

Sipes wanted an independent evaluation of the quality of his work, so she hired the Better Contractor’s Bureau.

"There's a lot of work left to be done here, so he's probably way overpaid," said Carlos Santora president of the BCB.
In his inspection Santora said the work is shoddy, and he's especially concerned about electrical wiring.

"Let's face it.  The electrical's a fire hazard,” said Santora.

In fact, he found the breakers were still on; indicating live wires could be dangerously dangling from the unfinished walls.

"It’s really a mess as far as the studding things like that.  To finish this job you need actual professionals,” Santora concluded.  He estimated it would likely cost another $20,000 to not only finish the condo but also correct mistakes A-S Contracting may have made.

As for Sipes, the experience has soured her dream of returning to her childhood home of Rochester.

"It's pretty devastating. He's saying another $20,000.  I don't know how we can do that,” said Sipes.  She and her husband will now likely have to take out a loan to finish the work.

After News10NBC contacted Al Sprague, he and his girlfriend, Sarah Crawford, reached out to Sipes and said they wanted settle the matter.  News10NBC will continue to follow the case and report whether the contractor agrees to refund some of Sipes' money.

Before you hire a contractor, here's Deanna's Do List:

  1. Get at least 3 bids.
  2. Do a background check, like checking the Better Business Bureau.
  3. Ask for proof of insurance.
  4. Get a written contract.  The Better Contractors Bureau has provided an example of what it should look like.
  5. Never pay full price up front.  The BBB suggests pay a third up front, a third in the middle, and a third at completion.
  6. Report problems to the BBB, the Attorney General’s Office or the Better Contractors Bureau.

Credits

Deanna Dewberry

Copyright 2017 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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