SUN CITY WEST, AZ - Two years ago, after her husband died, Lynne Marion moved to Sun City West from Ohio. She wanted to be closer to her daughter.
She bought her "dream house," moved in her gaggle of dogs and decided she loved it in the desert.
IN TOO DEEP
But, things changed after she saw some landscapers doing work on her neighbors' house one day.
"It looked really nice," she said of the work. So, she sat down with the owner of the company, who introduced herself as Ana Juarez, and decided to hire Juarez Design.
It started with their workers making her patio bigger in the backyard. But, "before they finished it," Marion said, "then I added more work onto it."
They told her they could build a sidewalk for her, and a front patio, she said. Then, they painted her house, put a coating on her driveway and, eventually, re-did the floors inside her house, tore out all of her kitchen cabinets and remodeled her bathroom.
About halfway through the work, Marion's daughter got sick and was admitted to a hospital.
"My head wasn't really here," Marion said. "I wasn't around as much to supervise."
But, the project got bigger and bigger. For months, Marion agreed to pay more and more – and let them tear up more and more of her house.
"In the meantime, everything is out of the living room, out of the kitchen," she said, "and the dogs and I are living out of the bedroom for five weeks, with all the dust and the soot and the mess."
She said she never knew when the workers would or would not show up to work on her house – but she always knew when it was Friday.
On Fridays, Ana "would come and tell me she had to make payroll and that she needed a check or the guys wouldn't be able to finish," Marion said.
By the time she realized how deep she had gotten into the project, Marion realized she had paid Juarez Design a total of about $42,000.
It didn't take long for her to realize the work was done poorly. She said she felt taken advantage of.
"I'm a single lady now and nobody to ask, ‘is this right?'" she said.
"In the bathroom, the toilet leaks, the vanity leaks," she said. "The master bathroom is half painted, the concrete on the driveway, the coating is black, no matter how much I wash it; the paint in the garage is peeling."
Marion said she wrote an email to Ana Juarez saying she was cancelling the rest of the work. She filed a complaint with the Registrar of Contractors, who investigated her claim, but said she doubts she'll ever see her money again.
"I mean, this is supposed to be my dream house to retire in and it's just got so many problems, you know, it's hard," she said.
THE ROC TAKES ACTION
"Juarez design, Ana Juarez, Rafaela Juarez, going by many different names, also working with someone named Hugo Juarez," said Tyler Palmer, Chief of Staff for the Registrar of Contractors (ROC).
"We've got a lot of different names and they've been on our radar for many years," he said.
He said the ROC has submitted multiple cases against them to court for advertising and contracting without a license dating back to 2009.
But, they haven't stopped yet. "They'll solicit work, they'll upsell, they'll do anything you'll pay them for," he said.
The ROC has 23 complaints on file against this company, totaling more than $100,000 contracted, Palmer said. And, over the years, the ROC has fined Juarez Design a total of $8,500 for unlicensed contracting.
But, filing misdemeanor charges and issuing civil fines is as far as the ROC can go.
Now, the ROC has filed nine new cases against Juarez and they've asked the Maricopa County Attorney's Office to consider charging the company with more significant charges than the Class 1 misdemeanor they're able to submit.
"We think there's a pattern of practice showing other crimes and we'll ask the prosecutor to pursue those," Palmer said – charges such as fraud, theft or fraudulent schemes, he said.
After trying to track them down for weeks with no response, we finally found Rafaela ‘Ana' Juarez and her family outside of a Sun City West house whose owners told us the company has also done faulty work there.
"I don't know what you're talking about," Juarez said in response to our questions about Lynne Marion and the money they made from her.
She got in her truck and drove away.
Remember, before you hire any contractor, make sure they have a license and only make payments after you see work you're satisfied with. You can look up any contractor's license number on the
Registrar of Contractors' website.