Evansville woman seeking justice in home improvement fraud case - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Evansville woman seeking justice in home improvement fraud case


An Evansville woman says she won't stop fighting for justice in a home improvement fraud case that stretches back more than four years.

Bernadette Lemon says she hired a contractor to do $24,000 of renovations to her home.

A signed agreement spelled out everything he told her and her daughter he would do. But a $15,000 security deposit later, the porch still sagged, the front door hadn't been fixed, and the inside of the house had been gutted. You can see only the sub floor remains in every room the contractor touched. The plumbing and cabinetry from the kitchen is even gone.

With the house uninhabitable, Bernadette says she had to buy all the things she already paid for in order to move back in. Once enough was fixed, she and the four young kids with special needs she had recently adopted, moved back in.

Then Bernadette got sick and she'd spent so much money on the house.

“She couldn't afford it anymore,” said Donnella Cheatem. “That's how my mom lost her home.”

Even though Bernadette was forced to move out of the house she had lived in for 15 years, she still wanted her money.

Bernadette told us she tried to settle the matter with the contractor in civil court, but he was only willing to return $3,500.

Her daughter filed a police report against the contractor last week and now plans to pursue criminal charges.

Depending on the circumstances, someone who commits home improvement fraud of this magnitude in Indiana can receive a felony charge.

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