Unlicensed Contractor Continues To Violate Law
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - For years, the state has been trying to stop an unlicensed contractor who refuses to follow the law. If you're not careful you might end up hiring him.
A recent NewsChannel 5 Investigation first exposed how he works and how he's been ordered to stop doing work as a home improvement contractor.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates went undercover and consumer investigator Jennifer Kraus discovered how nothing seems to stop him.
Gary Carlton did not want to talk when NewsChannel 5 Investigates first exposed earlier this year how he's been sued by dozens of unhappy customers, been arrested for working without a contractor's license and how he's repeatedly ignored orders from the state to stop working.
Then in July, the state fined Carlton $25,000, but that still did not stop him.
Last week, after we spotted ads Carlton had placed on Craig's List for his roofing business, Roofing Right, our undercover producer gave him a call and asked for a quote.
Carlton took a look at the roof we had and told our producer, unaware that we had undercover cameras recording the exchange.
"I'm looking at $4,900,” said Carlton.
The problem is Carlton needs a state Home Improvement license. He knows that and knows he does not have one, but that does not stop him.
Carlton told our producer, "If I'm going to give you this price, I have to go buy these shingles now. If you just give me the word, I'll put them on my credit card."
Jason Brooks hired Carlton to do a major project at his home in Murfreesboro, but ended up suing him in court and winning.
"He doesn't care. That's the thing. He doesn't respect the law,” said Brooks of Carlton.
Former customers like Brooks told NewsChannel 5 Investigates how they sued Carlton for doing what they said was shoddy work and how he failed to finish what he'd been paid to do.
"He turned what was supposed to be a dream project into a complete nightmare,” said Brooks.
Customers also described how Carlton insisted he was licensed. It turned out, the license he showed them was not his.
Just months ago, state regulators cited him for that very thing, using someone else's license. Yet we found him doing just that.
When our undercover producer asked Carlton if he was a licensed contractor, Carlton first ignored the question. Carlton then handed him his business card which claims he is licensed. When we asked about it again, Carlton explained how the license is not his.
"It's listed under my nephew, Chip Carlton,” said Carlton.
When investigative reporter Jennifer Kraus then appeared and asked Carlton about what he was doing at the home, he insisted that he was doing nothing wrong.
"You don't have a license in Davidson County?" asked Kraus.
"No, ma'am, only through my brother, he has a license and if we need a license, we pull it through my brother,” said Carlton.
According to the state, that's not what he's supposed to be doing. Christopher Garrett is the spokesman for the State Contractors Board.
"If you're doing work or plan on doing work as a contractor, you need to be licensed,” said Garrett.
"Can someone without a license do this sort of work using someone else's license?" asked Kraus.
"No. The person who's doing the work needs to be licensed themselves," explained Garrett.
"Someone can't say, 'I'm using so-and-so's license?'" asked Kraus.
"No,” answered Garrett.
When Kraus asked Carlton about the license he's using, he had trouble keeping his story straight.
"Like I told you, my brother, [I mean] my nephew carries the license for this county," said Carlton.
Carlton insisted he was planning on giving the job to someone with a license which is also against state law.
"What's the name of his company?" asked Kraus.
There was a long pause, and Carlton seemed confused.
"Infinity? I can't even think of the name right now," said Carlton.
"You're selling for a company and you don't know?" asked Kraus.
"No, ma'am," replied Carlton.
Just hours after we caught him on camera, police in Rutherford County arrested him for violating his probation by failing to pay court-ordered restitution from a case out of Murfreesboro.
The state said he has not yet paid any of the $25,000 he owes the state either.
The contractor's board can fine him, as they've done. Carlton could face even more fines. NewsChannel 5 Investigates has learned that they've just opened a new investigation based on another complaint from a consumer.
The contractor's board does not have the power to prosecute him. They have referred their findings against Carlton to the district attorney twice before, once in 2003 and then again in 2005. They are planning to ask the district attorney to file charges against him again.
The state said it's important to hire a licensed contractor because you know that person has gone through the required training and is familiar with the codes and standards.