St. Louis, Mo., April 8, 2013 –
A Colorado contractor, who was ordered to pay more than $6.5 million in restitution and fines after his roofing company collapsed four years ago, is involved in a new roofing business in Missouri.
The Better Business Bureau
(BBB) warns consumers and material suppliers to be extremely cautious when dealing with Glenn Christian Jessen
, Dakota Built Roof Systems
of Cleveland, Mo., and Cardinal Built Roof Systems
of O’Fallon, Mo.
In May 2011, a judge in Denver ruled that Jessen had to pay $5.9 million in restitution and civil penalties and more than $600,000 in legal fees for his role with Claim Specialists International
(CSI) in 2007 and 2008. The court said CSI collected about $1.7 million from nearly 500 Colorado homeowners, but never repaired their roofs.
Roofing suppliers said CSI still owes them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Colorado court ruling came in a case filed by the Colorado attorney general who alleged that Jessen and CSI were involved in deceptive trade practices.
Glenn Jessen’s father, Ernest Jessen of Denver, is owner of Dakota Built Roof Systems and Cardinal Built Roof Systems. Ernest Jessen told the BBB that his daughter, Lynnette Joy Jessen, runs the businesses.
Lynnette Jessen told the BBB that Glenn Jessen has no formal title with either company and does “whatever I ask him to do.”
Lynnette Jessen said her brother is “taking care of what he needs to take care of” in Colorado. She said his involvement in her father’s companies should not be a cause for concern. “There’s nothing to worry about,” she said.
Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said the Colorado case should raise strong doubts for consumers and businesses who might consider doing business with Glenn Jessen.
“The CSI case was one of the worst contracting debacles in Colorado history,” Corey said. “To trust that Mr. Jessen suddenly has turned over a new leaf and has straightened out his business practices is taking a tremendous leap of faith.”
A roofing supplier, who said his company lost $300,000 to Jessen and CSI, said, “Years later, I still get upset about it. They were predatory. If I had any friend or family member involved with (Jessen), I’d tell them to be careful.”
A former partner in CSI called Jessen “a guy you definitely need to keep an eye on; things can go south in a hurry.”
In the 2011 court decision, the judge said that Jessen and six others founded CSI in April 2007 and that Jessen served as the company’s president from April 2007 to November 2008. She said the evidence in the CSI trial showed that Jessen knew that the name CSI misled some consumers into believing the company was affiliated with a government agency. She said, too, that the evidence showed that Jessen knew of CSI’s cash flow problems which began as early as 2007, and continued through January 2009.
Further, the judge said, the evidence showed that “Jessen was more concerned with bringing in new sales and collecting front-end checks rather than the actual repair of consumers’ roofs.”
In addition to the monetary penalties, the court barred Jessen from owning, operating or working for any business in Colorado that “solicits or offers door-to-door construction or home repair services and assistance with consumer’s insurance claims to cover the home construction or repair services performed.”
In October 2012, the judge ruled Jessen in contempt of court for failing to make $1,000 monthly payments in the case. She also ruled that unless Jessen makes the ordered payments, the state can collect from Lynnette Jessen, Ernest Jessen, Dakota Built Roof Systems or Cardinal Built Roof Systems.
Court documents in the contempt case say that Jessen has used the alias Jesse Christianson when introducing himself to customers in an effort to keep his real name secret.
Records with the City of Cleveland, in the Kansas City area, show that Jessen rented a home on West Main in the summer of 2011. He described himself as an employee of Dakota Built Roof Systems. A Dakota Built Roof check to the City of Cleveland in September 2012 is signed by Lynnette Jessen.
Lynnette Jessen rents a home on Orchid Drive in O’Fallon, Mo. The offices for Cardinal Built are in the same home.
Lynnette Jessen said that while she did not want to go into detail on the Colorado court case, her brother “got shafted.” She said that Cardinal Built is winding down operations in the St. Louis area and may soon go out of business. She and her father said the business is moving into shingle recycling and recently opened a recycling facility in Florida. They said they hope to open similar centers in the St. Louis and Denver areas in the near future.
In 2009, Jessen denied allegations by the attorney general that CSI used high pressure sales tactics to get jobs or that it targeted senior citizens.
“That is absolute sensationalism,” he told the Denver Post at that time. “Nobody was out there trying to steal from anybody. I’ve been in this business for many, many years. I had a great reputation.”
The BBB offers the following tips for consumers looking to hire a contractor:
- Take time to confirm that the business is local and has a track record of reliable workmanship. Visit www.bbb.org or call 314-645-3300 for a BBB Business Review, which includes the company’s BBB rating (A+ plus to F) along with the complaint history and company contact information.
- Ask the company for references and call those property owners. Ask them if the jobs were performed as agreed and whether they were satisfied with the results.
- Ask whether the contractor has all required licenses and insurance. Ask your city whether it has experience with the business.
- Ask for a written contract and read it to ensure that everything mentioned by a salesperson is included. Make sure the contract includes all details of the job as well as when and how payments are to be made and when the work should be completed.
- Find out if there is a cancellation penalty if you terminate the contract.
- Do not pay the entire amount in advance. May the final payment only after the job is done and you are satisfied with the work.
Contacts (News Media Only): Aaron Reese, Manager of Information and Media Services, BBB of Greater Kansas City, firstname.lastname@example.org or Bill Smith, Trade Practice Investigator St. Louis Better Business Bureau, 314-584-6727, email@example.com