Authorities charge unlicensed plumber with scamming customers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 20, 2011

By Nathan Hardin
MOCKSVILLE — Deputies arrested John Hodges, the unlicensed plumber who some said fraudulently took thousands of dollars for services unrendered, on charges of felony obtaining property by false pretenses at his Mocksville home on Thursday.
The arrest comes less than a month after the Post reported complaints of incomplete work from four customers in the Rowan and Davie County areas. Since the report, eight more alleged victims contacted the Post with similar stories about Hodges.
According to arrest warrants, Hodges was charged with seven counts of felony obtaining property by false pretense and given a $256,000 bond.
Hodges is also involved in criminal cases in Brunswick County and Davie County. According to court records, Hodges faces felony obtaining property by false pretense charges in both counties, as well as a misdemeanor charge for failing to work after being paid in Brunswick County.
The 40-year-old Hodges is accused of defrauding Lorene Trexler, an 86-year-old Salisbury resident, among others.
Trexler told the Post on Sept. 27 that she and her son paid $19,500 to Hodges Plumbing and Restoration in August for what began as a leaky pipe beneath her sink.
After finding Hodges’ flier in the front door of her Magnolia Circle home, Trexler said she called him the proclaimed family man.
Only after giving him almost $20,000, Trexler said, did she realize minimal work had been completed to her bathroom and Hodges had removed all the copper the home’s plumbing, a pattern which allegedly occurred at most of Hodges’ alleged victims’ homes.
Eventually, Trexler said, Hodges stopped answering calls and, despite leaving equipment and a half-finished bathroom, never came back to finish.
According to the Better Business Bureau, Hodges Plumbing and Restoration has also been advertised as John Boy’s Services and JB’s?Handyman Services. The business file was started by the Better Business Bureau on February 12, 2009. The business is listed with an F-rating with three complaints.
Hodges has been in legal trouble before. He was convicted in 2002 of three felonies for obtaining property by false pretense, two in New Hanover County and the third in South Carolina.?He was convicted in 2006 for larceny over $1,000 in Surry County and again in 2007 for misdemeanor larceny in Davie County.
Despite the five charges, Hodges has not faced prison time.
Phone calls to Davie County Sheriff’s Office and Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office were not immediately returned.
Hodges is also involved in civil lawsuit with Martha Edwards in Brunswick County over work that Edwards says was never completed.
Salisbury resident Cecil Hutchinson is also suing Hodges for unsatisfactory work dating to earlier this year. According to the lawsuit obtained by the Post, Hutchinson is represented by attorney Richard Reamer.
The lawsuit, which was filed Sept. 20, alleges that Hodges began taking money from Hutchinson on March 6 for repair work that increased in scope from a $5,500 project to $21,200.
The lawsuit states that Hodges is an unlicensed contractor who, “by fraud and deceptive trade practice through advertisements and representations held himself out to be a qualified workman with years of experience.”
The lawsuit also states that Hodges knew “the work was not necessary or that he could not or would not complete the work.”
Citing their pending cases, Hutchinson and Edwards declined to comment.
Check the Post Friday for more details.