Texas Church Scam Hits Home

By: Tamara Evans Email
By: Tamara Evans Email

It's every homeowners worst dream ... to hire a contractor who doesn't follow through on the contract. It's the reason why a morning court case drew an audience all the way from Texas.

"This guy is scamming people. Churches mainly and he's constantly doing it day after day. He's robbing Paul to pay Peter, except I didn't get paid. I didn't get our refund back," Artis Edwards said.

Artis Edwards is the pastor at New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas. He and members of his church came over 900 miles from Texas to see Gregg Howell in court in Bowling Green even though it isn't their case. That's because they say Gregg Howell owes them thousands.

Edwards said his church hired Howell to do the contracting on a building they purchased for the church back in February of 2006. They say they payed Gregg Howell money for a job that didn't get done.

" ... And they leave the site and we don't see him again, so right now we're out about $161,000 dollars plus about $28,000 in damages and we don't have a building, a church building," Edwards said.

The Howell's attorney, Alan Donohue, said what is happening with Gregg Howell in Texas has nothing to do with why he and his wife were in court on Monday, Jan. 8, 2007.

He said the charges here stem from a wire transfer to an area bank. The Howell's withdrew $20,000 that was put into their account but Donahue said there was a mix-up and the money shouldn't have been there.

The Howell's were notified they must pay the bank back and payed all but $6,300.

"They had been making an effort over a number of months to pay the bank back but nonetheless it is over $300 and they were charged with theft by deception over $300," Donohue said.

Artis Edwards said despite the sentence that Gregg Howell and his wife receive on the Kentucky theft charge, members of his Texas church won't be letting their issue with Gregg Howell go unforgotten.

"We want our money back. That is the issue and we intend to get it back one way or the other," Edwards said.

The Howell's attorney said his clients have paid the bank in full but the couple could be sentenced to five years each behind bars. The Howell's final sentencing will be on Feb. 19, 2007.

Following today's guilty plea, Gregg Howell was taken into custody by the Bowling Green Police Department for two outstanding warrants from other states.

No word on if or when Gregg Howell will face charges connected to the Texas church.

If you want tips on making sure your contractor is legit, visit www.consumeraffairs.com.

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