NOBLESVILLE— Noblesville homeowner Tina Duncan has been waiting for five years for something to happen.
She wants to get her money back after she says contractor Mark Sellers started a foundation job at her home in 2017 and failed to finish it.
Duncan now has a glimmer of hope that she will get some of that money back in her pocket.
On January 27, the Indiana Attorney General’s office won a $47,620 judgment against Noblesville contractor Mark Sellers.
Sellers is ordered not to operate a home improvement business in Indiana for two years and must also pay $16,120 in restitution to several former clients including $2,845 to Tina Duncan.
WRTV Investigates first exposed Sellers in 2018 for taking customers’ money and not doing the work promised.
Duncan’s home was a mess back in 2018 when WRTV first met with the homeowner.
“He disappeared,” said Duncan.
Duncan filed a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General, which filed a lawsuit against Mark Sellers, accusing him of violating the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act by taking people’s money and failing to finish jobs, sometimes leaving behind dangerous conditions.
While Duncan is glad the state obtained the judgment, she’s skeptical she will get her money back.
“I think I’ll never see it,” said Duncan. “It’s paper. Common sense tells me he did the same thing in Colorado and then left the state.”
Records show Mark Sellers is accused of bad business practices in Colorado as well.
The Boulder County District Attorney’s office sued Sellers in 2011 for low-balling customers by underbidding construction projects, mispresenting his masonry work on his website and for using deceptive trade practices.
They obtained a $32,084 judgment against Sellers, but he still has not paid it as of April 2022.
When we met up with Mark Sellers in 2018, he vowed to pay people back.
KENNEY: There’s a lot of people that say you owe them money. Are you taking people’s money and not doing the work promised?
KENNEY: Tina Duncan, Derek Culnan, Bryan Andrews — they all want their money back. Are you going to give people their money back sir?
SELLERS: Yeah, through the judgments we will.
KENNEY: But you didn't show up in court. Have you paid any of the judgments?
SELLERS: I’m working on that.
KENNEY: What about Colorado?
SELLERS: Working on that too.
Tina Duncan says in addition to the thousands she paid Sellers, she also paid $11,000 to two companies to finish the job she says Sellers left behind.
Sellers was never criminally charged in Hamilton County.
"I just don't understand how he's still walking the streets in Hamilton County or Indiana period,” said Duncan. “I don't understand why he's not behind bars."
WRTV Investigates took Tina and other consumers’ concerns to Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita.
WRTV asked Rokita if they have any chance of collecting the $47,620 judgment against Sellers.
“We will follow him all the way to bankruptcy court, to criminal court, wherever he's going, we are sticking with him like glue,” said Rokita.
WRTV Investigates asked Rokita if the Attorney General’s office can criminally charge Sellers.
“In Indiana, county prosecutors have the discretion to bring criminal charges,” said Rokita. “It's only in very rare instances the Attorney General can, and this is not one of them.”
Sellers was convicted in Hancock County for home improvement fraud and in May 2021 received probation.
In October 2021, Sellers violated probation in Hancock County by failing a drug screen, records show.
As a result of the probation violation, Sellers is currently on electronic monitoring through Hancock County until July 11, 2022, records show.
In Hendricks County, prosecutors charged Mark Sellers in January 2022 with home improvement fraud, theft and identity deception after they allege he used the name “Mark Fireman” to get money from a couple, and then failed to finish the job.
The criminal charges are still pending against Sellers in Hendricks County.
WRTV reported in 2021 that another Hendricks County family said Sellers was using the name “Mark Fireman.”
WRTV asked Attorney General Todd Rokita how Sellers has been able to continue to operate despite criminal charges and a lawsuit filed by the state.
“When you deceive people, it’s very hard to police,” said Rokita. “Him spending time behind bars will ultimately stop this.”
Rokita credited prosecutors in Hancock and Hendricks counties for holding Sellers accountable.
“I encourage our prosecutors to go after people like this,” said Rokita. “I think judges and prosecutors need to not go soft on this type of crime. Wrong is wrong and the only way to stop this guy is to have him do time."
WRTV stopped by Sellers’ home on April 15 to get his side of the story, but he didn’t answer.
We also left a business card on his door.
Mark Sellers is due in court on June 27 in Hendricks County, and he has a public defender.
TIPS FOR HIRING A CONTRACTOR:
- Get estimates in writing
- Check for criminal charges or civil suits here
- Check for a contractor’s license
- Ask for references and call them
- Ask to see examples of their work
- Ask about insurance: personal liability, worker’s comp, and property damage coverage
- Pay wisely, not all upfront