3OYS Update: Unlicensed contractor fined more than $27K

Posted: Updated:
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Daniel Louis Klabunde first tried to run from Gary Harper in a previous 3 On Your Side investigation earlier this year as he was entering a Mesa courtroom.

"Hey, how you doing sir?" Harper asked. "Where are you going? You have a court hearing. Why have you taken tens of thousands of dollars from people and then not done the work?”

At the time, Klabunde ran a company called 1/2 Price Cabinets. He took thousands of dollars in deposits from customers but then closed shop. He even sent out letters telling customers his business had gone under, as if that made up for the money he took.

"The letter acknowledges that I gave him $8,000, that he went out of business on the 10th and that I’m not getting my money back period," said Joe Verdugo, who is just one of numerous people who complained to 3 On Your Side and the Arizona Registrar of Contractors.

The agency quickly got involved and is now finally doing something about Klabunde.

"We’ve made a referral over to the county attorney's office. They'll review the case and prosecute appropriately," said Bill Mundell, who heads up the R.O.C.

He says Klabunde was even fraudulently using the state license number of legitimate contractors.

"He's a scam artist," Mundell said. "He tried to look legitimate. He got their license numbers, put it on his ads so people would think he was licensed, that they would have the protection of a licensed contractor. And in reality, he was not licensed."

Klabunde has a track record of ripping people off. In fact, he pleaded guilty to two contracting charges in the past.

But now, Mundell says his agency has had enough and is fining Klabunde more than $27,000 in civil penalties. They hope the stiff penalty gets Klabunde's attention.

Mundell added, "You all deserve credit, too. We had been investigating some of the victims, and then you did a couple of stories and we came up with some more victims. So in my tenure as the director, he's one of our worst actors."

For additonal information, visit the Arizona Registrar of Contractors' website. We'll keep you updated if criminal charges are filed through the Maricopa County Attorney's office.