News 4 Investigates contactor accused of scamming people back to old habits

Published: May. 23, 2022 at 9:53 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Some Missouri homeowners claim they lost thousands of dollars and are questioning if a contractor they hired is back to old habits after the state took him to court for scamming people.

News 4 Investigates started looking into it and uncovered a five-year-old court order which bans the contractor from taking any money from customers “until the construction job is fully complete.”

Cracks still surround the brick on Elizabeth Reinsch’s South City home, all while the man she already partially paid to fix them is nowhere to be seen.

“Over $3,000, that’s a significant amount of money,” Reinsch said. “When I heard the back history, I really thought ‘oh my God, why is this man still out there?”

Reinsch says last fall she noticed a contractor working on several homes in her neighborhood.

“I went over and said, ‘what are you doing?’ And he said ‘tuckpointing,’” Reinsch recalled.

On November 1, 2021, Reinsch says Marler gave her a contract from his company called Tuckpointing by Terry. The contract lists 9 projects along with the total cost, $10,125.

The contract states “1/3 due upon signing” and underneath that is the price, $3,365. Both Reinsch and Marler signed the contract.

When asked how much she paid, Reinsch said, “I have paid a third.”

Reinsch claims in the 6 months since she signed the contract, Marler has not started the work or given her a date for when he will start.

“Never called me to tell me when he was going to start, on a warmer day, he said,” Reinsch explained.

Reinsch complained to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office and called News 4 Investigates for help.

News 4 Investigates went looking for Marler at his St. Charles home, which is the address for his company. On that day, Marler’s work van was parked out front, Marler was in the driveway but as soon as he spotted News 4 cameras, he went inside and wouldn’t open the door or answer calls.

Marler’s neighbor stepped in off camera. He called Marler, who agreed to speak with News 4 Investigates with one condition: Marler would only talk through his neighbor’s phone.

“I’d love to do her job,” Marler said. “I’ve tried to reach out to her twice, with nothing.”

Marler explained what’s happening as a misunderstanding.

“I’m trying to get to her job,” he said. “No one tried to take advantage of her.”

Marler pinned the delay on needing to hire help and rainy weather.

“I have all intentions of doing the projects,” Marler said. “She can pay me at the end of the job when we are completely done, and I apologize for the inconvenience for the weather.”

Marler is no stranger to News 4 Investigates, in August 2012 a couple reached out to the I-Team claiming Marler took them for $10,000 on a patio project he never did.

“I’m like, ;hey, we need our money back,’ and he’s like, ‘just sue me,’” Annete Guisewite recalled.

Over the years, News 4 heard similar stories, a cycle of homeowners paying Marler, work not getting done, and him disappearing.

Topping it off, there are pages of lawsuits against Marler in Missouri as people sued him in small claims court.

In 2016 the state got involved when the Missouri Attorney General took Marler to court. A petition filed in that case lists three counts: false promise, misrepresentation, and unfair practices. Court records show Marler admitted to “all allegations,” had to pay $18,800 in restitution, and pay $9,000 in civil penalties.

The court order also “permanently” banned Marler from “a) Accepting funds upfront for any construction work b) Demanding or accepting any funds for work until the construction job is fully complete.”

For years, News 4 Investigates didn’t hear anything about Marler until now. Marler admits he violated the court order when he took a deposit from Elizabeth Reinsch.

“She’s the only (one) I took money down from in forever,” Marler said.

At least one other person claims Marler stiffed them. According to a complaint filed with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) last December, the writer claims their dad paid Marler the day he was hired and made another payment when the work started for a total of “close to $7,000.” According to the complaint, Marler didn’t “complete the job” and they feel “scammed.”

Marler wrote back, saying the “neighborhood was not safe and I lost my helper.” He added he’ll, “finish the project. Weather permitting.”

When News 4 Investigates asked Marler if that job was finished he answered, “No, like I said, I just found someone to come work for me.”

Marler was once the center of a BBB alert, warning he has a history of taking money and not doing the work. Those past complaints don’t show up any more, the BBB takes them off its website after 3 years.

“We have only had one complaint in the last 3 years,” said Sarah Wetzel with the BBB St. Louis. “If we hear of more complaints, that’s something that we definitely look into and it’s also something that we work our hardest at trying to resolve those complaints.”

Reinsch says she’s done.

“I really need to step forward and say, ‘okay I’ve been a sucker,’ but my hope is nobody else will be,” Reinsch said.

Reinsch says she filed a complaint with the Missouri Attorney General’s Office and sent Marler a letter asking for a refund.

When asked if he was planning on paying back the deposit, Marler responded, “technically by law I don’t have to, I’d rather just do her job.”

Since that phone call outside of Marler’s house, Marler reached out to News 4 Investigates several times and says he reconsidered and plans to send Reinsch a refund.

Reinsch says she has not yet received the money.

As far as oversight for contractors to follow court orders, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office tells News 4 it will investigate past cases where a violation is reported but relies on people calling in and reporting them first.

The Missouri Attorney General’s Office also explained it varies case-by-case, but if a person violates a court order, the Attorney General could ask the court to find the person in contempt.