FOX 8 Defenders: Contractor arrested for 3rd time

FOX 8 Defenders: Contractor arrested for 3rd time

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Contractor Stephen "Hunter" Estess is arrested again., This time it's for theft of $1,500 or more and misapplication of payment.

His arrest comes after several homeowners, including Rob Rowell, complained to the State Licensing Board.

"It's much more personal when someone messes with your home, and that's what he's done," says Rowell.

According to complaints FOX 8 obtained from the State Licensing Board for contractors, eight homeowners claim Estess took their money and didn't pay subcontractors or vendors for the work.

Rowell says Estess started building his home in Lakeview in December of 2013.

"Finally in May, I got my first lien. He hadn't paid for the lumber, and that was about $30,000," says Rowell.

Rowell says things only got worse from there. He says more and more subcontractors claimed they weren't paid.

"So, I ended up writing $300,000 worth of checks to vendors and sub contractors that hadn't been paid after I had paid him over $550,000 to build my house," says Rowell.

As Rowell faced liens on his home, Dr. Dennis Muller received liens on his home in Lakeview, as well.

"I said, you're going to put a lien on my house. I've been writing checks to Estess constantly, every time he wants a draw," says Muller.

Muller says eventually he fired Estess, but instead of the five months it was supposed to take to build his home, it took more than a year.

"We know now that we have $102,000 worth of lawsuits and liens on this house. We paid Estess $390,000 out of the $410,000 we were going to put on this house," says Muller.

The Licensing Board held a hearing last October and revoked Estess' license. They tell FOX 8 that Estess still hasn't paid his fines from that hearing.

His arrest earlier this week wasn't his first. New Orleans police arrested Estess last June and booked him with issuing worthless checks.

The next day, St. Tammany Parish authorities arrested him for forgery.

Estess issued a statement this afternoon. He says he's confident that the justice system will prevail and his innocence will be proven.

If you have a consumer complaint, call the FOX 8 Defenders staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women.

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