AZROC: Contractor accused of abandoning jobs, not paying workers

Posted at 9:51 PM, Apr 14, 2016
and last updated 2018-10-09 14:28:57-04

Checking out people you are going to do business with, is a good idea, no matter who you are or what you do.

Nino Almeraz is a licensed contractor who owns a flooring installation company. He tells me he has been fighting to get paid for a job he and his team completed in 2015.

His company was hired as a sub-contractor by Lance Wills, who he says was acting as a general contractor on a restaurant remodel.

"It was a big remodel he's gotta be licensed," Almeraz says.  "How else are you going to pull permits?"

Wills was not licensed, and hasn't been since it was revoked in 2008.

"Every day I'd call, bugging him, texting him."  Almeraz says Wills went from promising to pay, to making excuses. Eventually, he says Wills stopped responding at all.

"You do a job for someone, you know, you tell them what's going on. $3000 isn't chump change" he says.

Wills is listed as one the Arizona Registrar of Contractors' Most Wanted (AZROC)

He's got a long history with them.

The AZROC tells me since his revocation in 2008, 17 complaints have been filed against Wills; 6 have been submitted for prosecution.

Complaints range from poor work, to abandonment, to not paying subcontractors.

The Agency also says Wills is known to use

In February 2015 Wills was convicted of "fraudulent schemes."

Accused of leaving an elderly Mohave County woman's home incomplete and not paying workers for that project either.

The AZROC believes he's still doing it.

We spoke to wills by phone.

He is working out of town but says he does not belong on the Most Wanted list.

Wills says he is paying restitution on the old cases, but acknowledges that he does owe Nino Almeraz.

Wills said he would call Almeraz to work out a payment plan.

Almeraz tells me Wills did call, but he's skeptical anything will come of it.

"None of anything he's had to say has been factual," Almeraz says.

Wills tells me he doesn't know of any open cases with the AZROC and hasn't taken any jobs that require a license since the one with Almeraz, which began in March 2015.

A spokesman for the AZROC tells me, "Mr. Wills is welcome to come down to the office as we'd be happy to clear up any misunderstanding he has. There are open cases."

You can protect yourself by checking out the licenses of potential business partners. You can also check the Maricopa County Superiorand Justice Courts to check for civil cases involving the people you are looking to business with. It could give you some insight into their history in business.

Need my help? Call volunteers with the Assistance League of Phoenix at (855) 323-1515, by email, or on Facebook or Twitter.