Contractor charged after work on soldier's Cumberland home abandoned
Posted September 19, 2014 1:31 p.m. EDT
Updated September 19, 2014 4:36 p.m. EDT
Fayetteville, N.C. — A Raeford contractor and his wife face fraud charges for taking payment to make a wounded soldier's home handicap accessible and then not finishing the work.
Jason Fields, 40, and Christina Fields, 36, both of Stonesthrow Lane, were charged Thursday night with one count each of obtaining property by false pretense and conspiracy. They were released on $5,000 unsecured bonds.
Special Forces LTC Rob Pickel lost both his legs when his unit was targeted by a suicide bomber in Pakistan. While he was recovering in an Army hospital, his wife hired the Fieldses’ company, Jason's Home Improvements, in July to redesign the master bathroom in their Cumberland County home so he could get his wheelchair into the shower.
Authorities say the Fieldses took $3,900 in advance – half of the $7,800 quote on the project – started making repairs and then stopped working.
"Some issue crept up almost immediately after he started the work," Pickel said. "Quickly, we found out he was trying to do this on the lowest cost to him so that he could make the biggest profit. I don't have a problem with people trying to make a profit, but if your going to do that, be on the up and up."
"He also puts in the description that he's going to do plumbing and electrical, which he is not qualified to do," Carolyn Pickel said. "He's not licensed to do that, and he did that."
In a telephone interview Friday, Christina Fields said her company stopped doing work at the home after the Pickels breached their contract twice and caused delays in work. There was also a dispute over a bathtub upgrade.
"Even on the job site while Jason was working, Mrs. Pickel was asking for a refund on the tub," she said. "We explained to them the cost of the tub and why we sent them the bill for it."
The Green Beret Foundation, which has a fund to help wounded warriors with such projects, paid for the work on the Pickels' home. Authorities said Jason Fields rejected a check made out to his company and insisted that the payment be made out to him. It's unclear if the group can recoup the money to hire another contractor.