CHICAGO (CBS) – A contractor took the money and ran without doing the work, a disturbing pattern of behavior.
CBS 2's Lauren Victory uncovered the story that's nearly a year in the making.
Money is tight for piano teacher Amy Wurtz. The musician practices night and day to prepare for any freelance work. But she has no time or patience left for contractor James Nesbitt.
"To let him get away with literally stealing money from me is just really hard to swallow," Wurtz said.
In July 2022, the Rogers Park woman paid a deposit of $3,750 upfront to Nesbitt's company Clearpath Construction and Development to insulate and drywall her attic.
Victory: "What was this supposed to look like?"
Wurtz: "This was supposed to be like completely covered in 6 inches of foam."
Nesbitt's crews didn't get very far, to say the least. Wurtz asked for a full refund. He refused.
"He was trying to say, 'Well, I did all this work,'" Wurtz said. "And I'm like, 'It's laughable the amount of work you did.'"
Her frustration started bubbling over as the months went by with none of her money returned.
In October 2022, Wurtz reached out to CBS 2 for help. CBS 2 contacted the contractor, and he wrote back saying he spent $2,000 on materials and another $2,000 in labor.
CBS 2 asked for proof.
Nesbitt said he'd forward CBS 2 receipts but has yet to do so.
As for Wurtz's end, after CBS 2 emailed Nesbitt, he finally called her.
"That was like the big breakthrough," she said.
But several documents show that the "breakthrough" didn't last. Nesbitt promised to pay her last fall if there was no news story. So she asked CBS 2 to hold off, but then, Wurtz sued him after he didn't follow through.
A judge accepted a payment plan from Nesbitt.
"It was something like $250 every two weeks for 12 weeks, and that would've been the full amount," Wurtz said.
He's sent her some cash in the past few months, but she's still out $2,800, still stuck with an uninsulated attic, and still getting excuses.
"'Yes, I'll give you the money back. I promise I will. I'm sorry, you know,'" Wurtz said, recalling what she said Nesbitt told her.
It was the same old tune, with the same story reported by several people to the Better Business Bureau over the past year.
They accused Nesbitt of taking off with deposits without completing jobs and complained he didn't respond to customers.
Essie Garcia is familiar with Nesbitt's broken promises.
"I don't believe anything he says," Garcia said.
Her daughter hired his new company Consult+Cosntruct+Create to do some mulching and tree trimming at Garcia's Huntley home in June.
"Her HOA was suggesting it was too low, so she was kind of on a time constraint," said Ana Avila, Garcia's daughter.
The great-grandmother fell behind on neighborhood landscaping requirements after her husband died earlier this year.
"I didn't realize that funeral expenses were that much," Garcia said.
Despite her limited savings, the widow paid Nesbitt $825 for the yard work. He never showed up.
Nesbitt repeatedly wouldn't write back to texts asking for a refund, though Garcia and her daughter did get an email from him accepting responsibility after CBS 2 went looking for an explanation.
CBS 2 made sure to let Nesbitt know his clients can't afford to let this go.
"I lose $800," Garcia said. "It's not any play money."
So, what was the contractor's response to CBS 2 this time?
He said he's "working in good faith."
What did he mean by "good faith"?
CBS 2 asked him, but he didn't answer yet.
In the past, Nesbitt has been good at broken promises, bad checks, and excuses, but not so good at actually paying back money owed.
CBS 2 will continue to follow up.
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