Osceola family seeks compensation after contractor takes money

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Paul Franklin and Tameka Pittman moved into a house in Osceola, Indiana with their two children in 2008. It was the perfect place to raise their family.

On November 5, 2019, everything changed.

Paul had left with their daughter to go to the store.

Tameka was home alone with their quadriplegic son.

She was letting the dogs out when an electrical fire broke out in the house.

“I remember putting my arms under him, under his arms, and I don’t remember how I got him out or lifted him up or anything, but I got him out of the house,” Tameka said. .

The family was placed in a hotel and began the process of reconstruction with the insurance company.

Farmers Insurance issued a check to Midland’s mortgage for $165,402.82.

A sum that seemed small to Paul and Tameka, considering what they lost.

Paul and Tameka decided they needed help.

They hired Shawn Blank, owner of Paladin Insurance Advocates.

His job was to help negotiate the claim with the insurance company.

“I am a defender of the insured.

“I do the estimates, the estimates on the structure, on the content, on that particular job, I help find the house they were staying in,” Shawn said.

Shawn conducted his own inspection of the property.

He believes that the house was unrecoverable and that the insurance company should give more money for the reconstruction.

But the amount remained the same.

“This house was burned beyond life, there was no rebuilding process that could have ever rebuilt the house that was there,” Shawn said.

Shawn also recommended a few different contractors.

Tameka and Paul picked one, and demolition finally began a year after the fire.

The building society paid for the demolition work.

But then the contractor pulled out of building his house.

So, Tameka went back to the list of builders Shawn had given her and selected John Bray of Under One Roof Construction.

“We were doing a job in Kokomo, I met this guy, he seemed like he was doing a really good job, and he was recommended by someone there,” Shawn said.

“We worked with John Bray for months, for a while. We made it all the way to the permit, and he gave all the credentials to the mortgage company. He needed it to rebuild our house, he got everything he needed. Our mortgage company sent us a check for $55,000, which he asked to start,” Tameka said.

On June 24, 2021, John Bray Senior, John’s father came to collect the check.

It was cashed the next day.

But then –

“He just ghosted us,” Paul said.

“He didn’t answer his phone at all, I emailed him, texted him, wrote on his business page,” Tameka said.

I looked up Bray’s business records on the Indiana Secretary of State’s website and noticed a pattern.

Under One Roof Restoration and Construction LLC was dissolved on March 5, 2022.

John Bray Junior had another business, the JB&C service from 2015 to 2018 which was dissolved on March 5, 2018.

The same day, four years earlier.

Now there is a new company, Bray and Son LLC, in the name of John Bray Senior, located in Kokomo, Indiana.

I decided to get behind the wheel and talk to the Brays myself, to try to get some answers.

John Junior was the first stop.

There was no one at the registered business address for the now disbanded ‘Under One Roof Construction’, which appeared to be John’s home.

I spoke with a neighbor who thought John worked at the pet store.

The next stop was Johns’ father.

I wanted to ask him how to get the check from Paul and Tameka.

The woman who answered the door was John Senior’s sister.

She didn’t want to be registered but told me that her brother and nephew didn’t own a construction business.

Before returning to South Bend, I went back there to try to speak with John Bray Jr.

He stopped when we arrived.

“I’m Kevin Warmhold with ABC57 news. The reason I’m here is Paul and Tamika. Are you under one roof?

“Can you tell your side of the story,” I asked.

“I’m not talking to you,” John said.

“You don’t want to talk to us. Do you want to tell your side of the story? ” I asked.

We gave John a chance to explain, which he declined to comment on.

At this point, Paul and Tameka are unsure if they will ever get back the money they gave to Under One Roof Construction to rebuild their house.

Later, I met with Tameka and helped her complete the paperwork, filing a formal complaint with the Indiana State Attorney General’s office.

The hope is that an investigation will be opened into entrepreneur John Bray and his business.

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