3OYS: Judge orders contractor to pay family $48K in restitution

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- A local businessman found himself on 3 On Your Side, and then found himself in a court of law.

3 On Your Side profiled Chris Pickering back in November. At the time, some homeowners were pretty upset with him. After the report aired, the state took action.

When 3 On Your Side found Pickering this time, he was in a court of law getting sentenced. "In prior proceedings, you pled guilty to court to solicitation to commit taking the identity of another as a Class 6 undesignated offense," said Superior Court judge Roland J. Steinle, III.

The last time we talked about Pickering, he owned a company called Anthem North Interiors. Mary Mitchell and her husband hired the company to remodel their home and even paid Pickering a $60K down payment to get started. But all they got, they claim, was shoddy workmanship. In 2012 Mary Mitchell said, "This isn't what we had in mind. It isn't anything close."

The Mitchells say not much was done right, including a loose bathroom partition that was not attached correctly. 3 On Your Side looked into their issue and discovered Anthem North Interiors and its owner Chris Pickering were not licensed to work by the state's contracting board as required by law. Instead, Pickering was using a license that belonged to a legitimate contractor.

As a result, the state immediately issued a cease and desist order. And Pickering eventually wound up in court. Pickering’s fiancee addressed the court, saying, “This is my fiancee and I’m sorry but this is really hard for me to see him up here."

Pickering had a few character witnesses speak on his behalf, but the judge in the case also heard from people like Dawn Rundle, Mary Mitchell’s daughter. "Every time they walk into their home it is a constant reminder of the money they lost," says Rundle. "A constant reminder of the year wasted chasing Mr. Pickering and dealing with this company."

In the end, the judge waived any jail time, However, he did order Pickering to repay $48K in restitution due to the Mitchells' job. Pickering is scheduled to make $2,500 payments every month until the judgment is satisfied. If he doesn't, then he could face jail time. Pickering told judge Steinle, "I’ve learned a lot more about the law and the statutes, what you're supposed to do, what you're not supposed to do. One thing I can promise you is I’ll never be standing here again in my life."

Mary Mitchell said they’ll be glad to get their money back. "I’m glad he didn't go to jail, I really am, because he's got a small child," she says. "But I think he got what he deserved. You just can't do that to people."

Pickering is scheduled to start making those restitution payments in December. The Mitchells hired another contractor to remodel their home and are pleased with the results.