Whistleblower says Grand Forks contractor didn't fulfill his agreements

Published: Jun. 12, 2019 at 10:29 PM CDT
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A Moorhead woman is having trouble with a contractor she says hasn’t fulfilled his end of the bargain after paying him, so she contacted our Whistleblower Hotline to look into it.

Our investigation sparked the North Dakota Attorney General’s Office to get involved.

Carlene Schimke entered into several agreements with “Team Lawn and Landscape.”

Schimke said the Grand Forks-based company was recommended to her.

“I believe in people and they really did a bad thing here with me because nothing is done. And, I just don't know who else to go to but you guys,” Schimke said while sobbing.

Schimke showed us checks and receipts that totaled nearly $40,000 for work “Team Lawn and Landscape” and “Vaughn Construction” had agreed to do.

Both companies are owner by Nicholas DeRosier.

“I wrote them another check for $16,000 so that's $26,000 there for landscaping,” Schimke said as she looked over copies of the checks she had written.

Besides paying them $26,000 for landscaping, Schimke also paid “Team Lawn and Landscape” and “Vaughn Construction” more than $12,000 for other jobs that haven’t been done.

One job they were supposed to do was replace and fix Schimke’s front door.

According to the North Dakota Secretary of State's website, Team Lawn’s license was not in good standing.

We spoke to DeRosier several times and he said his company is not in good standing because of issues with renewing its license online.

That license expired on March 2 and we learned from ND Assistant Attorney General Parrell Grossman that the company was sent and had received several letters notifying it of the expiration.

“If he's engaged in contracting with one or two businesses without a license, both of those are violations,” Grossman, who’s also the director of consumer protection and antitrust division at the AG’s office, said.

We saw two contracts that Schimke entered with Team Lawn signed on March 28, which Grossman said under North Dakota law could possibly put the company in violation.

“Vaughn Construction” isn’t even registered in the state.

DeRosier initially defended his company against the claims made by Schimke when we first contracted him.

DeRosier said they had problems getting sub-contractors and he’s still within his contract. He also doesn’t plan on refunding Schimke’s money.

Yet, Schimke said the contracts are broken. They show dates have passed on project completion dates.

For a fencing project, which was four to five months behind, Schimke said she paid another company to finish it.

“I had to call somebody else to come and finish the fence because they wouldn't come. I called, and called, and they wouldn't come,” Schimke said.

According to Assistant Attorney General Grossman, North Dakota laws allow the AG’s office to pursue charges if a contractor abandons a project before completion.

“When months go by and a project has not been complete, there are specific sanctions or remedies under North Dakota law that would suggest a project has been abandoned,” Grossman said.

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