(TRI-CITIES, TN) WJHL- Tri-Cities plumber Glenn Harris is under fire at the state and local level after several customers claim he took their money, but never finished the contracted work. Now, the Office of the Sullivan County District Attorney General is investigating after receiving a complaint.
Documents from the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Board for Licensing Contractors show Harris has had 11 complaints filed against him, dating back to 2000 and has received three warning letters. At least, one of the warning letters was sent to Harris in 2011 for poor workmanship, according to a state spokesperson. One of the businesses Harris owns, Reliable Plumbing, was placed on the “Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs Problem Contractors” list in December.
Currently, there are four open complaints against Harris. Kim Taylor filed two in 2015. One of Taylor’s complaints alleges that Harris held himself out as a licensed contractor despite only holding a Limited Licensed Plumber’s (LLP) license.
“[He] said he could build it from the ground up,” Taylor said.
“[He] said he could build it from the ground up,” Kim Taylor said.
In her complaint, Taylor said she hired Harris in 2015 to build her a home in Sullivan County and paid him $22,500 up front for the nearly $100,000 project. The complaint states that work soon began with Harris cutting down trees and digging and pouring footers. But Taylor said she soon noticed less work was being completed. “There was just nothing going on. I questioned it every day.”
In Tennessee, a contractor’s license is required if the total cost of a project is $25,000 or more. A record from the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance shows Harris has an LLP license.
Harris responded to Taylor’s complaint in a written statement that was filed with the state in June 2015. In the letter, Harris wrote that he agreed to “supervise the licensed builder” and never said he was one. But in a memo, an assistant general counsel for the state’s Board for Licensing Contractors wrote, “the simple fact that he supervised the licensed builder would bring him under the definition of a contractor under the Contractor Act.”See: Response from Glenn Harris to Kimberly Taylor (.pdf)
Faye Adkins also has an open complaint against Harris after she said she hired him to complete several projects around her Unicoi County house. In her complaint filed with the state, Adkins is asking for a refund of $8,500 for two projects that remain unfinished. “He didn’t try to complete the job within a reasonable time,” Adkins said. Adkins is also requesting that Harris be fined for unlicensed activity and a suspension or revocation of his license.
“Sadly, this is an area that we deal with on a regular basis,” said Sullivan County Deputy District Attorney General Gene Perrin. Perrin said his office has an open investigation into Harris after a complaint was made. Perrin could not divulge specifics about the investigation, but said cases of this nature usually involve someone practicing without the proper licensing or some type of fault in the matter that is under investigation.
“When it pertains to us, is there was a violation of law and when you look at whether a violation of law has occurred within the parameters of the contract,” Perrin said, “We have to prove that the individual that is the focus of our investigation had the intent to deceive the individual or the affected party that he or she entered into the contract with.”
Perrin said it is actually a form of theft, but it is not easy for the DA’s office to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that there was a criminal intent to deceit. “Keep in mind intent is a state of mind,” Perrin said. “We have to prove not that a person was a bad businessman or that the individual ran out of money and was not able to finish up a project. But that when the person took the money from a citizen of Sullivan County they had no intent to complete the job.”
News Channel 11 requested a sit-down interview with Harris several times to discuss the allegations against him, but it never happened. He told News Channel 11 that the allegations Taylor is making against him, “are all untrue. We [my lawyer and I] have the court documentation to prove that. He [My lawyer] has all that and I’m actually suing her,” Harris said.
Documents from the General Sessions Court for Sullivan County show Harris sued Taylor for breach of contract in the summer of 2015. The civil summons states Taylor would not let Harris finish the contracted work on her house and that she made a false complaint to the state licensing board. Court documents also show Taylor sued Harris around the same time for breach of contract. Both suits were dismissed after Harris agreed to a judgment and paid Taylor $10,000.
Harris told News Channel 11 that he was preparing to file another lawsuit against Taylor. “I’m getting one for slander and everything else.” In a follow-up conversation, Harris maintained his innocence and said he is still working with Adkins on insurance claims and would be happy to finish the uncompleted work after Adkins hires someone to finish work around the pool area that he says he was not contracted to do.
The DA’s office hopes to make a decision soon on whether or not criminal charges will be filed against Harris. The state Board for Licensing Contractors is continuing to investigate its open complaints and Harris could face civil penalties and a suspension of his LLP license.
- WEB EXTRA: Linda Cole’s complaint to the state (.pdf)