The owner of a local contracting company is facing a felony stealing charge after a man reported paying for construction services that he never received.
Lawrence “Larry” Govero, owner of HTL Contracting out of Leadington, was charged Feb. 19 with felony stealing, $750 or more, in St. Francois County.
According to a probable cause statement from the Terre Du Lac Police Department, on June 9, Govero created a proposal to place a roof on a boating slip on a man’s property within the lake development. The man reportedly gave Govero $4,000 to do the job; however, he reported that Govero never returned to his property to do any work on the roof.
Additionally, the officer states that he is aware of multiple similar reports of Govero proposing to do work, getting paid, and never returning to do the jobs. The officer said these other incidences occurred within the same time frame.
A summons was mailed to Govero for an initial court appearance in the case scheduled for March 26.
Govero has been charged in the past after similar allegations were made against him in 2015.
On Sept. 1, 2015, Govero was arrested by the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department on a warrant related to a charge of felony stealing.
According to court records, the Farmington Police Department reported that on April 10, 2015, Govero was paid $800 by check for a bathroom remodel in a Farmington resident’s home.
It was alleged that the check was cashed three days later, and Govero failed to show up at the victim’s home to do any work or provide any materials.
According to the report, in the following weeks, Govero allegedly failed to show up for several scheduled appointments to start the job and then began avoiding the victim’s phone calls.
The charge was dismissed in 2016 by former-St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney Jarrod Mahurin.
A Park Hills couple won a small claims court judgment against Govero in May 2015. The details of the civil case are not available, but records show that the court entered a judgment ordering Govero to pay the couple $1,000. Court records do not show that Govero has paid the money or satisfied the judgment.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) issued a press release on June 17, advising consumers to use caution when doing business with the local company.
The release states that consumers allege the company failed to start or complete projects, failed to issue refunds, and provided overall poor customer service.
The business has an “F” rating, the lowest on the BBB’s scale, due to several recent unanswered customer complaints.
The BBB previously warned consumers about the company and its owner, Govero, in August 2015. The recent consumer complaints mirror those previously received by the company.
“Unfortunately, consumers are still having problems with this company,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB St. Louis president and CEO. “The business needs to do the right thing and either give people their money back or do the work it was paid to perform.”
A man from High Ridge told the BBB he paid the company nearly $9,000 to do two projects at his residence. The man said neither one of the jobs was ever started. The man said he first entered into a contract with HTL Contracting in October 2018 to replace the siding on his garage and to rebuild a deck at the back of his residence. He said he paid the company $4,400 to start the job. He recalled giving Govero a second check for $4,500 after deciding to have the siding on his residence replaced.
The man said no work was ever done on the projects. He said he was concerned about paying the company half of the money for each project before it was started. He said he learned from watching BBB appearances on local television stations that he should not have given so much money upfront.
“Had I only called the BBB,” the man said. “...When I called to file my complaint, they told me the company had an ‘F’ rating. If I had known that before, I wouldn’t have hired him.”
A Park Hills man filed a complaint with the BBB after he said he paid Govero $1,000 in April 2018 to build and install a drop zone landing cabinet. The man said no work was done on the project.
The man, who has a background in law enforcement, said he has been able to get a partial refund of his money. He told the BBB he had received two payments totaling $250 from Govero.
“It’s been a rough process,” the man said of getting his refund. “I’ve had to stay on top of him in order to get my money back. He isn’t wanting to pay me.”
According to the press release, Govero did not respond to a BBB letter regarding what his business is doing to address its pattern of complaints.
HTL Contracting has not only been placed under the spotlight by the BBB, but was also the focus of an investigative report on KMOV-TV in November 2015, with complainants making allegations similar to those received by the BBB.
Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com
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