3 On Your Side

'Most Wanted' man dupes senior citizen

Posted: Updated:
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

When 3 On Your Side started looking into a so-called handy man, it didn't take long to find out he has quite the past. In fact, it's landed him at the top of the contracting board's "most wanted" list.

"Yeah it was coming down right through here."

Garnita Minear says she went into her closet about a year ago and found water coming in from a leaky roof. 

“I was looking for somebody to fix that roof.”

And what do you know. Garnita says not long after discovering that leak, a guy walked up to her door looking for handyman work.

That's when Garnita told him that he could fix her roof. That man? A guy by the name of Joseph Wharton.

3 On Your Side showed Garnita the photo of Wharton that appears on the Arizona Registrar of Contractors most wanted list.

"Oh, that's him."

3 On Your Side is familiar with Wharton because he's on the Arizona Registrar's of Contractors Most Wanted list.

According to the agency's director Jeff Fleetham, Wharton's routine is always the same, ripping off homeowners, which is why he's now criminally charged and on that list.

"Generally, on the most wanted list is the number of complaints or the egregious of the complaint."

Wharton is unlicensed, and according to the contracting board, he's racked up a dozen complaints filed by victims. Victims like Garnita, who says Wharton asked for money up front to buy her roofing material.

"When he first started, I gave him $400 and $900."

And although Wharton worked on the roof, he kept asking for more money. In fact, he even asked to borrow $1,000.

"I think he can't be trusted."

In all, Garnita says she wrote a series of checks to Joseph Wharton totaling nearly $8,700 including that so-called loan.

And for all that money, Garnita says Wharton put a few shingles on.

Jeff Fleetham says he's not surprised and says Wharton has a history of targeting senior citizens all over Arizona.

"Several thousands of dollars from people who seem to be older people. Often times, a couple of complaints that we've had where people have done business with this person in the past and sometimes even come back for even more money."

3OYS tried contacting Wharton by phone, but we were unsuccessful.

However, the ROC and Garnita want homeowners out there to be on the lookout for Joseph Wharton, who likes to roam from county to county taking money and taking off.

To view the Arizona Registrar of Contractors most wanted list, click on the following link: https://roc.az.gov/roc-wanted

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

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

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

Click to learn more about Gary.

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.

Hide bio

Contact 3 On Your Side