UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio — A local contractor said he would help a woman in University Heights fix her home. However, there's a big difference in what he said and what has actually happened. And this guy is no stranger to News 5.
"What kind of work did he promise to do?” we asked.
“He promised to put a form around the back," replied 74-year-old Jan Bernstein. She told us she hired William (Bill) Burke from Cuyahoga Construction last November after a neighbor recommended him. "He was going to replace (the concrete steps) with wooden steps and railings," said Bernstein.
She said her second-level porch needed replacement as well so, she gave Burke nearly $2000 to start. An exposed downspout was one thing that Burke left behind. “The water would go into the ground right into the basement,” said Bernstein. “So, I put the bucket there to gather the water.”
There was more left on the property. Bernstein showed us wooden planks, extension cords, gutters he took down, and more after giving Burke $2,000. But all of that has been sitting in her garage since November. "I feel like crying every time I pull into my driveway,” said Bernstein.
She told us she paid another $2,000 for the demolition work. She said she's called and texted Burke only to get numerous excuses.
"He had a wedding in Pennsylvania…the weather was bad…he stepped on a screw…his mother had surgery…his cement guy broke his foot…" Bernstein recalled.
We called Burke. He assured us time and time again he was going to finish Bernstein’s project. Weeks went by with nothing being done. So, we tracked him down at his home on Cleveland's west side. Burke had just gotten out of a truck near the back of his home when we approached and said we are from News 5. He mumbled something, ran inside, and locked the door.
We had many questions for Burke including what happened in May when he was hit with a nearly $22,000 judgement against him. The Ohio Attorney General went after Burke’s contracting deception.
And that's not all. We featured Burke in a previous News 5 story back in January of 2018. A couple sued Burke for $6,000 and won. Plus, Burke wasn't supposed to do any kind of construction without a court-ordered certification.
"I look at (the uncompleted work) and I go, 'I was stupid. I was a sucker. Why didn't I just call the Better Business Bureau,” said Bernstein. Had she done that, she would have noticed the F-rating for Burke’s Cuyahoga Construction company. Plus, there are several complaints about Burke even dating back to 2017 saying he took deposits, did not return phone calls, and did not show up.
For now, Bernstein has to get rid of the water that collects on her porch because she can't collect her total of $4,200 back from Burke. "This is just minor, but to me on a fixed income...it's a lot of money."
Bernstein filed a police report against Burke and Cuyahoga Construction company. The University Heights Police Department told us it's still investigating to see if it can charge Burke with a crime.
Be careful out there. Do your homework before hiring any contractor.