4 Investigates: Lawmakers consider bill to toughen penalties on shady contractors | KOB 4
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4 Investigates: Lawmakers consider bill to toughen penalties on shady contractors

Nathan O'Neal
March 01, 2019 10:27 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Lawmakers are working on an emergency bill that would toughen penalties for shady unlicensed contractors and extend the statute of limitations.

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Too often New Mexicans put their trust in contractors only to end up getting scammed by shady or phony hires. Emily Busard said she is one of those victims. She paid Russell Brasher roughly $5,000 to re-do her son’s backyard in Rio Rancho.

“He did a little bit and he kept promising that he would come back to finish the work and never showed up,” said Busard.

When 4 Investigates tracked Brasher down last month, he denied everything.

“It’s not that I’m not paying them back, I was fired in the middle of a job. I wanted to complete it but couldn’t,” said Brasher.

In this case, Brasher is charged with fraud. However, he also faces several charges in other pending cases. Brasher was recently ordered by the court not to leave this part of the state without permission.

Brasher’s case is just one of 500 cases currently under investigation at the New Mexico Construction Industries Division. It’s a problem overwhelming the state.

Last month, the acting director for CID Martin Romero said, “we are stretched for resources but we are in the process of working with the legislature actively as we speak.”

Now at the Roundhouse, state lawmakers are considering HB 456, sponsored by Rep. Dayan Hochman-Vigil.

“We need accountability measures. We need consumer protection for New Mexico families who have time and time again been victimized,” said Hochman-Vigil.

On top of increased penalties for unlicensed contractors, the bill also grants some state licensing officials the power to make arrests.

“This is happening all over the state and especially in my home city of Albuquerque – people who have become bankrupted by unlicensed contractors,” said Hochman-Vigil.

The bill also expands the statute of limitations for criminal charges from one year to three years – giving more time to pursue justice.

HB 456 is considered an emergency bill – and if it is ultimately passed and signed by the governor – it would take effect immediately.

Track this bill during the legislative session

To report a complaint, contact the Construction Industries Division

Follow this link to learn about contractor red flags

Credits

Nathan O'Neal

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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