3 On Your Side

Dozens of churches are praying for a $250,000 resolution

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King of Kings Church paid $50,000 for pews with Custom Church Interiors but received nothing. (Source: 3TV) King of Kings Church paid $50,000 for pews with Custom Church Interiors but received nothing. (Source: 3TV)
First Christian Church handed over $5,700 to Custom Church Interiors for chairs but the business closed. (Source: 3TV) First Christian Church handed over $5,700 to Custom Church Interiors for chairs but the business closed. (Source: 3TV)
Custom Church Interiors had been locked out by the landlord. (Source: 3TV) Custom Church Interiors had been locked out by the landlord. (Source: 3TV)
Inside Custom Church Interiors, we saw a few chairs and pews, but nothing else. (Source: 3TV) Inside Custom Church Interiors, we saw a few chairs and pews, but nothing else. (Source: 3TV)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

A Valley business is under fire for reportedly taking as much as $250,000 from churches from multiple states and then disappearing.

"We did a down payment of about $5,700," Jon Taylor said.

Taylor is the lead pastor at First Christian Church in Phoenix. He and his congregation were looking forward to filling a part of their church with chairs, so they placed a pretty big order with a local manufacturing company called Custom Church Interiors.

"This particular church said they felt comfortable doing business with this company because they've dealt with the company before. In fact, they purchased all these chairs just a few years ago and back then they had no problems at all," Taylor said.

But there are plenty of problems now.

After handing over $5,700, Pastor Taylor says Custom Church Interiors kept the money and quietly shut down. 

"It was just disappointing that it ended this way," Taylor said.

And as it turns out, Pastor Taylor and his church aren't alone. 

Pastor Josh Hahne of King of Kings Church in Goodyear says he too placed an order with Custom Church Interiors for pews.

"We did a down payment of about $50,000," Hahne said.

Pastor Hahne paid $50,000, but his church received absolutely nothing.

"They were taking money from people and churches and not doing any of the work and seemingly intending to do so," Hahne said.

The pastor says his church was forced to pay another company to have pews installed. As a result, Pastor Hahne and his congregation recently sued Custom Church Interiors and won a judgment against the company, but to this day, they have received no money back.

And according to Felicia Thompson with the Phoenix Better Business Bureau, the number of victims is stacking up.

"We actually heard from churches across six different states including Arizona," Thompson said.

She's right. In fact, the BBB says Custom Church Interiors may have taken as much as $250,000 without delivering any items.

So what happened to Custom Church Interiors, the money and the owner?

A guy name Robin Groves runs Custom Church Interiors.    

We never heard back from him regarding all of the complaints, but 3 On Your Side did go to the business. We found Custom Church Interiors had been locked out by the landlord.

Inside we saw a few chairs and pews, but nothing else. As for the churches, 3 On Your Side spoke to Pastor Taylor who says he’s disappointed.

"We're going to cut our losses and move forward," Taylor said.

"If you were going to steal from someone I wouldn't want to do it from a church," Pastor Hahne added.

The link to the Better Business Bureau report can be read here: http://www.bbb.org/phoenix/news-events/news-releases/2017/01/churches-praying-for-resolution/

   Copyright 2017 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

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Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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