3OYS: Unlicensed painter still hasn't returned $1,600 to homeowner

Posted: Updated:
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- Denise Saxon remains pretty upset. Not only is she getting notices from her HOA saying her home needs to be painted, but the company she hired to do the painting took off with the $1,600 she paid them.

The name of that company is Salty's Quality Painting, owned by a guy named Jeff Salt.  "Well, I'm wondering if he's ever going to come," Saxon told 3 On Your Side.  "And will I see him again, and am  I going to get my money's worth? Are we going to get this job done?"

In 3 On Your Side's first report, we tried finding Jeff Salt.  In fact, we went to the mobile home he shares with his mom several different times, and even left messages to have him call 3 On Your Side's Gary Harper.

Well, after that report aired, guess who finally called?  Jeff Salt.  He gave 3 on Your Side a bunch of excuses as to why he never finished Saxon's job, including claiming to have been in the hospital.  And as for the $1,600 he took from her? Well, he says he'll pay her back, but it will have to be in payments.

"What do you mean, a payment plan?" Harper asks Salt. "Why do you need to pay her back in payments? She didn't pay you in payments."

"Because I just got out of the hospital," Salt replied.

"But, what's that got to do with making payments to her?" Harper asked.  "She paid you in full, $1,600."

"I know sir.  That's the best I can do," he responded.

But, what about that work van he drives? Right underneath his company name, he clearly sports an Arizona Registrar of Contractors number, meaning he's licensed, bonded and insured.

However, if you look that number up on the contracting board's website, you'll see the license number doesn't even belong to him. It actually belongs to another company. "You can't drive a van around with an ROC license number that belongs to somebody else and say it's you. You can't do that," Harper tells Salt. "It's illegal."

As for paying back Saxon her $1,600, Salt goes on to tell me he'll take out a title loan so he won't have to make payments to Saxon after all.  However, Saxon says she hasn't seen a dime from Salt and hopes no one else ends up in her situation. "These kind of people need to be put out of business," she says.

The Registrar of Contractors tells 3 On Your side that they have completed their investigation into Salt and have passed their findings over to prosecutors.

The contracting board is requesting several criminal charges be filed against Salt, including two felonies: theft for reportedly taking Saxon's money, and identity theft for using another painting company's license number.  3 On Your Side plans to air an update when prosecutors make a decision.

In the meantime, when hiring any contractor, always remember to hire a legitimate licensed one. Ask to see their ROC number and make sure to verify that number with the ROC by visiting their website at www.azroc.gov.

By dealing with licensed contractors, consumers have confidence the contractor is knowledgeable in his or her field.  But, more importantly, consumers have recourse if they experience problems with the contractor and can even get their money from the agency's recovery fund if the licensed contractor abandons the jobs.