By US~Observer Staff
LaPine, Oregon – This is the story of a builder from LaPine, Oregon who not only took a couple building their retirement home in central Oregon for over $50,000.00, but also ended up taking the people who worked for him for a “fraudulent financial ride,” – along with a reported 45 other individuals.
After doing research through Oregon’s Construction Contractors Board (CCB) this couple decided to hire a local contractor named Aaron Hartman, owner of Aaron Hartman Construction.
The building was started and everything appeared to be going fine until one day when the owner received a phone call from Building Solutions (BS) of Bend, Oregon informing him that they had not been paid $36,000.00 dollars in charges to his account for building materials charged by Hartman. The owners checked with US Bank who was funding the construction of the couple’s home, only to find that $36,000.00 had been drawn out of the bank by the contractor to pay the bill. The owners were shocked because they had a contract with BS setting a credit limit for the contractor in the amount of $10,000. The reason for this amount was that if the contractor came in and wanted to charge more the owner would have to be contacted to okay amounts exceeding the $10,000.
The owners soon received more calls from vendors about unpaid bills for materials even though the money had been withdrawn to pay them. By this time the contractor had pulled his equipment out and left their building sight. The owners repeatedly attempted to contact the contractor with no response whatsoever.
It was subsequently discovered that Hartman had created a draw slip where the date had been left off, he made copies, put in dates and was trying to make draws with these slips, but was denied for lack of justification. To make matters worse, they found out Hartman had taken their money and bought a bob cat and a pick up truck.
The owners were not only left with trying to come up with money to pay the bills that Aaron Hartman had not paid, but had to figure out how to finish the house in the time limit the bank had set.
The owners found out that Aaron Hartman had worked out an agreement with Building Solutions to pay them back the money that he owed. This helped a little, but other people had to be paid immediately. The owners also contacted the authorities to see if there was anything they could do against this contractor who stole there money and tried to steal more by committing fraud with draw slips. A detective with the Deschutes County Contractors Crime Unit was notified and all the paper work involving the contractor was submitted and was given to the Deschutes County District Attorneys office. The CCB was also notified and the procedure was started to collect from the bond of Aaron Hartman. This was another rude awakening for the “swindled” owners. The state only requires a 15,000.00 dollar bond and that is what Hartman had. This is quite a bit short of the 50,000.00 that Hartman ended up owing the owners after the final tally was done. For those who have never experienced this process, it is a long and drawn out one. It has been almost a year and finally the owners have been informed that the 15,000.00 bond check has been issued.
The Deschutes County District Attorneys Office has neglected to file charges against Aaron Hartman even though he has committed fraud and has taken 45 other people as well in this same criminal method.
Through our investigation we have learned that Hartman has also cheated his own crew. Information gathered shows that Hartman deducted child support payments from the checks of one employee and then pocketed the money instead of sending it to the State of Oregon. This fraud obviously created a nightmare for the worker. This criminal act by Hartman and many others have apparently been swept under the carpet by the Deschutes County District Attorney and state officials as well.
To top all this abuse off, a law suite has been filed against the home owners by BS, because Aaron Hartman quit trying to pay back the money he owed. What in the world could justify BS for going after the owners when they in fact were responsible for allowing Hartman to exceed the previously stated $10,000 credit limit by $26,000.
Aaron Hartman is reportedly now in Idaho Falls, Idaho working for a construction out-fit called J.A.L. Is there no justice or is the criminal allowed to just travel around taking peoples money with no repercussions. As usual there appears to be plenty of laws to protect the criminal but nothing for the victim.
In cases like this there is really no reason to file suite as the only blood you will receive with be that from a turnip. This type of fraud cases cry out for the authorities to step foreword and take action against the “Hartman’s of our society – but where are those authorities in Deschutes County, Oregon? Also, the law needs to be changed in regards to bonding. The minimum a bond should be is $100,000.00 dollars.
As for the victimized home owners in this article, their house had its final inspection. They have paid back the primary vendors, and will hopefully be able to work out something with Building Solutions. As for their retirement date, well, that date has been extended due to the fact that they simply can’t afford to retire following the extensive fraud they incurred.