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'We done took care of it' — Contractor charged for leaving work undone promises to pay back victim

Years-long case hopefully has resolution
Former contractor William Burke agrees to pay University Heights woman back after her years-long case has gone through the courts.
Posted at 4:06 PM, Jun 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-09 19:17:44-04

CLEVELAND — A senior citizen from University Heights paid a contractor for some work, it never got done, and the contractor kept her money anyway. After years of waiting, today she made one last attempt to get her money back, and 5 On Your Side Investigators were there.

It’s a case we’ve been following for a couple of years now. Back in 2018, News 5 told you about William Burke who did not follow through on his construction contracts. So much so, he was ordered not to do any construction unless the courts were notified first.

However, in 2019, Jan Berstein from University Heights told us Burke was at it again. She fell victim after he started but never finished her project. She paid Burke $4,200.

“I feel like crying every time I pull in my driveway,” said Bernstein when we first interviewed her.

Then, in 2020, our camera was rolling in Cuyahoga County Court when Burke was convicted of a felony involving Berstein’s case. Burke was sentenced to a year in prison.

“I think the justice system has to be worked on,” said Bernstein in a recent interview with News 5. That’s because she’s filed lots of court paperwork and made a ton of calls trying to get Burke to finally pay her back.

“There are hoops,” she said. “I’m the victim. I’m the one out money. And, of course, I’m the one who has to do all the legwork.”

This morning, Burke showed up for the civil matter at Shaker Heights Municipal Court. After about a half-hour of closed-door discussions, Burke emerged from the meeting.

“Yeah, I don’t have nothing to say,” Burke said as he was walking away from our camera. “We done took care of it.”

Bernstein told us Burke has agreed to pay $300 a month now after getting out of prison. Her dogged determination, hopefully, will pay off this time.

“Don’t let these people take advantage of you," she said.

Bernstein eventually got the work on her home promised by Burke done by someone else. She had to shell out more money to do so. After today’s agreement, she said she’s cautiously optimistic, and had this advice for you.

“Don’t give up,” said Bernstein. “Keep going. You put the money out. You deserve it.”

We are in the thick of contractor season. If you’re having a problem, email the 5 On Your Side Investigators: InvestigatorTips@WEWS.com.

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