3OYS Update: Contractor exposed; jail time possible

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

MESA, Ariz. --   A contractor profiled before by 3 On Your Side is now in trouble with state investigators. Our original story four months ago profiled the contractor  for allegedly vanishing with money.

But since that report, his situation is getting worse.

At first, Daniel Louis Klabunde tried to dodge Gary Harper when he caught up with him outside a Mesa courtroom, but he quickly realized he had nowhere to run.

Gary Harper: "Why have you taken tens of thousands of dollars from people and then not done the work?”

Klabunde ran a company called 1/2 Price Cabinets and took money in advance from customers up until the week he closed.  He then sent out letters saying the business had gone under.

That didn't sit well with customers like Joe Verdugo, who handed over thousands, and says he got nothing. “The letter acknowledges that I gave them the $8,000, that he went out of business on the 10th, and that I’m not getting my money back, period," says Verdugo.

Since that report aired, 3 On Your Side has received numerous letters from viewers who claim they, too, were taken. So, the Arizona Registrar of Contractors stepped in. Now the agency that regulates contractors is doing something about Klabunde.

"One of our worst actors that we've come across since I’ve been here as director of the agency,"  says Bill Mundell, who heads up the contractor board. He says he isn't very pleased with what Klabunde allegedly did to consumers. “You can't take monies from a homeowner and do no work and so that's what the evidence shows, he took over $160K, I think it was $163K and change from 13 different victims, and did little or no work."

That amount went up since Gary Harper's initial confrontation with Klabunde, who claimed he was the victim because he was using the money he took from consumers to stay in business.

HARPER: "Basically you paid your bills before and everyone else got nothing."
KLABUNDE: ”Not on purpose.”
HARPER: "That's shameful."

Bill Mundell added: "That seems like a pretty lame excuse to me."

The R.O.C. says Klabunde has already pleaded guilty to two charges. They've handed their findings over to the County Attorney's office. Mundell says: “This gentleman is unlicensed and even though we're going to request restitution and enhanced punishment, meaning jail time, the victims are going to have to wait to get their money back by $10, $20, $30 a month, whatever the court orders him to pay."

For information about hiring a licensed contractor visit: www.azroc.gov/