Family Says Local Contractor Left Holes in their Yard and Wallet

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At least two dozen people say they've been taken for tens of thousands of dollars by a local contractor.

11 News spoke with several people who say they hired John David Vieira to do landscaping work, but the work was never finished.

Court records show there have been several lawsuits against Vieira and his businesses. One family says his work left them with holes in their yard and their wallet.

The Wrights are like any other young family in Grand Junction. A new house, a two-car garage; they never thought a call for a fence and landscaping would turn into such an ordeal.

"It's really stressful, it's really taken a toll on our family," said Robin Wright.

The Wrights say they hired John David Vieira, the owner of Five Star Construction, to put up a fence and landscape their yard. The family gave the construction company $13,300 dollars for the work.

The Wrights say Vieira never installed the fence, ripped up the yard, and never finished installing sprinklers.

Then Robin Wright says the workers stopped coming, "They wouldn't show up, wouldn't return calls."

She took Vieira to small claims court and won. A judge awarded the Wright's $7,600, the most they could win in small claims court. Robin Wright says she hasn't seen a penny of that money, and she's still working with the courts to get Vieira to pay up.

"I've spent more than $24,000 for some grass, some rock, some sand," said Wright.

11 News found she's not alone.

"I don't think we'll ever collect a penny." Harrison Russell and his wife Pat are still waiting for money from a claim against Vieira last year.

"We've done all we can do," said Harrison Russell.

The Russells said they hired Vieira's company to do concrete work but say the concrete had cracks and water was seeping into the foundation of their house. They had to pay even more money to get it fixed.

And it's the same story in atleast half-a-dozen other lawsuits stemming back to 1999-- people hiring Vieira to do work on their homes, and Vieira never finishing the job.

The courts ordered payouts and settlements for tens of thousands of dollars. Many of the plantiffs say they never saw a dime of that money.

I asked Vieira for his side of the story. He told me over the phone, "one or two lawsuits in 22 years isn't bad," but wouldn't comment about anything else.

But the Russells and the Wrights have plenty to say about a hard lesson learned the hard way. They say they just want other people to know about Vieira, and to think before they hire someone to do work on their homes.

Vieira operates under three business names--Five Star Construction, Four Seasons Landscaping and Countryside Nurseries.

Five Star Construction and Four Seasons Landscaping both have an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau and five unanswered complaints. His newest business, Countryside Nurseries has a "B" rating and has no logged complaints.

The Mesa County Sheriff's Office told 11 News that there is little the Wright's can do to pursue criminal charges. Heather Benjamin, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, said if the landscaper never showed up, he could be charged with fraud but because he did perform some work it becomes a civil matter.

Calls to the District Attorney's Office to see if there would be another way for the Wright's and Russell's to pursue a case were not returned.

The Better Business Bureau says you should never give a contractor money up front, but rather wait until the work is done. It says you should check the B.B.B. website for a history on the companies as well. Bureau officials say you can also ask for the contractor's insurance to see if they are reputable. Finally, you can check with the city to see if they are licensed.

11 News checked with the City of Grand Junction and John David Vieira is not a licensed contractor.

Mesa County and the State of Colorado do not require contractors, except plumbers and electricians, to have a special license.

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