SNOW HILL- A local roofer investigated last year for bilking customers out of their money without completing contracted projects pleaded guilty this week in District Court to felony theft and operating without a contractors office and now awaits his fait pending the outcome of a pre-sentence investigation.
Charges against James Ira Lewis, 40, of Ocean City, were filed after a joint investigation carried out by the Worcester County Bureau of Investigation (WCBI), the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office and the Maryland Home Improvement Commission identified several instances of his company, Jimmy Lewis Roofing, absconding with payments without completing the work.
The investigation began last year after WCBI and the Home Improvement Commission received numerous complaints from local citizens about Jimmy Lewis Roofing based in Ocean City. The company is listed in the Yellow Pages as a roofing contractor, but has been allegedly taking jobs and down payments for jobs without a contractor’s license.
Investigator Thomas Marr of the Maryland Home Improvement Commission, based in Baltimore, charged Jimmy Lewis Roofing with five separate cases of operating without a contractor’s license, failure to perform a contract and numerous felony thefts. WCBI Detective Mike Lupiwok also charged Lewis with five counts each of operating without a contractor’s license, failure to perform a contract and felony theft.
In one case Lupiwok investigated in Berlin, Jimmy Lewis Roofing had taken a $12,000 down payment from an elderly victim to replace a roof. The victim had found someone else to complete the job. Eight months later, after repeated requests to return the down payment, the victim had not received any money back.
In District Court on Tuesday, Lewis pleaded guilty to felony theft and operating without a contractor’s license. His sentencing was deferred until May 20 while a pre-sentence investigation is conducted.
The Maryland Home Improvement Commission licenses and regulates home improvement contractors, sub-contractors and salespersons. Home improvement work includes alterations, remodeling, repair or replacement of a building or part of a building used as a residence. Home improvement also includes work done on individual condominium units. The commission investigates complaints by homeowners and awards monetary damages against licensed contractors and prosecutes violators of home improvement law and regulations.
WCBI took the opportunity this week to remind Worcester County residents to be careful who they select to do home improvements and always make sure the contractor has a license.