4 Investigates: Is New Mexico holding bad contractors accountable?
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When Linda Morton’s saw the condition her brother’s house was in she knew needed a professional contractor. She signed an agreement with Robert Listek, a licensed contractor, in March 2021 and paid him around $15,000. Little progress was made in the coming weeks and after she noticed flooring material purchased for her remodel had disappeared, she grew wary and ultimately went seeking justice.
“I was angry. You know, I was angry,” Morton said.
Morton filed a police report for the missing flooring. She contacted the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General to try and reach a resolution. They ultimately closed her case because she says Listek was uncooperative. Then she contacted the Better Business Bureau, but no one could help her get her money back.
Around the same time, across town, Rev. Gordon Keyler was having a similar experience.
“I try to see the good in everybody and it’s very, very difficult,” Keyler said of Listek. “I talked to him one time, he said, ‘you know I’m the most honest person you will ever meet, I have integrity.’ And… nah.”
The Unity Spiritual Center of Albuquerque was in need of a remodel. The congregation had saved for two years and after receiving multiple bids, they decided to sign a contract with Listek or RJL Construction Services. Keyler preaches there and said after weeks of broken promises with little progress, they too went seeking justice after they had already paid Listek $25,000.
Both Morton and Keyler contacted the New Mexico Construction Industries Division, the agency responsible for regulating contractors.
“She just assured me that basically, if there were no code violations there wasn’t a whole lot CID could do,” Morton said about her interaction with CID.
”CID said, we really don’t have the power to enforce anything.” Keyler said. “And like I said, my response was, why do you exist, what’s your purpose?”
Ultimately, Morton reached out to state Rep. Marian Matthews, who reached out to CID on Morton’s behalf. She helped get an investigator over to Morton’s brother house and it was then they discovered Listek had done work that he was not licensed to do with plumbing and electrical work – initiating a criminal case.
KOB 4 asked Rep. Matthews if it should take consumers reaching out their state representatives to get the appropriate response.
“No,” Rep. Matthews said. “And talking with the head of the agency – he’s in absolute agreement.”
Representative Matthews said CID is not very user-friendly and has ideas on how to improve the department during the next 60-day legislative session.
“One of the things I really, really want to look at it, is should there be some interim process to suspend a license when there are a number of complaints against the same contractor,” Matthews said.
A spokesperson for CID said they do not have the authority to suspend licenses, but there is an expedited process to forward multiple complaints to the Office of the Attorney General for them to take action. Complaints against contractors are also not published on the CID website, they recommend getting references and researching contractors on the BBB.
CID said they have around 650 interactions with consumers everyday. Out of all those interactions, they generated 580 complaints last year, most against licensed contractors. CID does help initiate criminal and civil cases from complaints when deemed appropriate.
On Morton’s criminal case, Listek agreed to paid $2,000 in restitution. If he does, the charges get dismissed.
Keyler and the Unity Spiritual Center of Albuquerque have a pending civil law suit seeking $25,000 from Listek.
KOB 4 approached Listek after his court appearance asking for comment. He had none.