Ohio AG sues contractor accused of scamming tornado victims

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a lawsuit Thursday against a local home improvement contractor accused of taking money for home repairs after the Memorial Day tornadoes but not doing the work.

The lawsuit was filed in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court against Brandon Valandingham, owner of West Carrollton-based Buckeye Storm Solutions. It accuses Valandingham and the company of performing shoddy work and taking money for work they didn’t do.

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Seven people filed complaints against Buckeye Storm Solutions with the attorney general’s office, alleging he cost them $44,638 combined. Five of the complaints say he did no work after he was paid. Three complaints stem from property damage from the Memorial Day tornadoes.

One of the complaints was from Tracy Oder. She said she paid Buckeye Storm Solutions $5,500 to fix tornado damage to her Riverside home but Valandingham didn’t do the work or even return calls. She told the Dayton Daily News Thursday she had to borrow money to fix her roof, and still hasn’t been able to repair an awning and shed damaged in the storm.

“He needs to pay us back,” she said. “What he did was wrong.”

The state’s lawsuit accuses Valandingham of violating Ohio consumer protection laws. It seeks reimbursements, civil penalties and court costs. It also requests an order preventing Valandingham from running a business in Ohio until those debts are paid.

“This guy deceived trusting clients who just needed a solid roof over their heads,” Yost said. “We’re going to court to get their money back and to hold him accountable.”

Yost said there are likely more victims and urged them to file consumer complaints with his office by calling (800) 282-0515 or visiting his office’s website.

RELATED: Prosecutors seek more charges alleging tornado scams

The Dayton Daily News revealed the complaints against Valandingham and his company as part of the newspaper’s project walking the path of the EF4 tornado that hit the region on Memorial Day and investigating obstacles to recovery. Valandingham was arrested on charges in Miami County during the course of the newspaper’s investigation. The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office has said it is seeking additional criminal charges against him.

Kathy Moore says she paid Buckeye Storm Solutions nearly $5,000 to fix a Dayton home she was in the process of selling when the storm hit. She then had to hire another contractor to do the work, she said. She’s skeptical they will get their money back.

“We are all hoping upon hope because some of us are retired and that takes a big chunk out of your savings when you have to pay it twice,” she said.

In the Miami County case, Valandingham is accused of taking $1,500 for home repairs in Piqua before the Memorial Day storm, not doing the work and then not responding to messages.

A hearing in that case is scheduled for March 11. Valandingham’s attorney Charles Slicer is requesting Valandingham be given a chance to pay $2,000 in restitution, according to court documents.

Slicer said Thursday he had not had a chance to look over the state lawsuit and will file a response in court once he has reviewed it with his client.

Valandingham is one of two area contractors facing criminal charges and accusations they didn’t do work they were hired for after the Memorial Day tornadoes.

The other contractor is Robert Greene, who has two warrants out for his arrest and has been accused by 10 other people of not doing work he was hired for through his company TK Home Improvement. The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office has said they are presenting those charges to a grand jury.

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