3 ON YOUR SIDE (3TV) - Lamar Cervantes is stressed out.

"This will be nice once it's finished," 3 On Your Side's Gary Harper told Cervantes as the two looked at some unfinished fencing in the front property.

[VIDEO: Chandler family say fake contractor disappeared with their $1,500]

"Yeah, hopefully," she replied. "I'd like to get it done for my husband. You just don't take someone's money and then run."

To understand Cervantes' frustration, you have to go back a few months ago when her husband, Angel, was diagnosed with carcinoma of the liver. In other words, cancer.

Due to Angel's failing health, Lamar says her husband became determined to get their family's home in tip-top shape before his health deteriorates further.

"He's a fighter, and he just decided, you know, I'm going to get my stuff done, and I want to see my house the way I want to see it before I'm gone," said Lamar.

So, family and friends pulled together and started remodeling Angel's bathroom.

"I'm building a seat in here so he can sit. And I'll put in a handicap bar over here and another one over here," said Charlie Sesate, a longtime family friend.

Sesate was in the bathroom, retiling Angel's shower.

And, even new flooring was installed throughout the house. The only project left that Lamar said her husband wanted done was to put in a decorative fence in the front yard.

So, back in early August, he hired a company called M & L Gates run by a fake contractor named Luis Villegas Espinoza.

Espinoza had already been paid to put up a block wall in the front yard, and it turned out alright. So, Lamar says her husband felt kind of comfortable handing over $1,500 as a down payment to put up some iron fencing to go between gaps in the wall. But, that iron fencing never arrived.

That's because Espinoza kept the $1,500 and never came back. Lamar says she and her husband are devastated.

"You've been through a lot," Harper said.

"Yes, but not only that," Lamar said. "I just don't want anyone else to go through that."

Espinoza is well known to the Arizona Registrar of Contractors.

The agency tells 3 On Your Side that they've investigated him seven times, and he's pleaded guilty and fined twice for contracting without a license.

3 On Your Side went to the fake contractor's south Phoenix home for answers. But it was fenced off. He had numerous "Beware of Dog" signs posted and two large dogs roaming his front yard.

We tried calling him numerous times and left a message with his wife as well. However, Espinoza never did call back.

Lamar says the contractor knew about Angel's worsening condition, and he took advantage of the situation.

"People like this man who did this to Angel, I just don't want him to do it to anybody else," Lamar said.

3 On Your Side is going to stay on top of this one. That's because a complaint has been filed with the Registrar of Contractors.

If the $1,500 is returned, criminal charges might be avoided.

3 On Your Side will let you know what happens in a follow-up report.

Gary Harper's 3 On Your Side reports air weeknights on 3TV News at 9.


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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