Victims expecting restitution have long wait
August 30, 2007
Over nine months after an unlicensed contractor was ordered to pay Darrell and Karen Bair nearly $20,000 in restitution, the couple still hasn’t received any payments for the money taken from them.
In November, Daniel Jackson was given a 14- to 48-month suspended sentence and ordered to pay back the Bairs for a family room he never finished at their manufactured home in Dayton.
Short pieces of rebar stick up from the ground on Bransetter Avenue in an outline of the 16-foot-by-50-foot room Jackson promised to build.
Jackson has five years, the length of his probation, to pay the restitution. He hasn’t started making his $250 a month payments until recently, however, because he was also ordered to go through a six-month rehabilitation program this year, during which he wasn’t able to work.
He has paid $390 since, none of which has been delivered to the Bairs yet.
The state said the couple should be receiving money soon.
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Though the restitution process is on schedule, it’s been over two years since the Bairs paid Jackson the thousands of dollars for the construction. It’s been that long, too, since they put the furniture for their living room in storage sheds.
They are paying about $500 a month for those – part of the expenses resulting from the crime that they say they can barely afford.
The Bairs, both 56, live off of monthly a Social Security check. Darrell is disabled from a 1993 injury he said has left his arm useless. Karen has diabetes.
Her doctor, she said, has recently ordered her to starting taking more medication. She said that costs over $200 a month.
They said they’ve had to take out a mortgage on their home, too.
“We’ve ran up credit cards like you wouldn’t believe,” Darrell said.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he added. “I really don’t know what I’m going to do.”
The Bairs said they don’t know who to talk to or how to find out more about getting their money.
They, in part, blame the Lyon County District Attorney’s office for not helping them more.
A representative for the office, however, said it has already done what it is supposed to do.
“As far as the district attorney’s office (is concerned), we prosecuted this thing,” said Mark Krueger, chief deputy district attorney. “We saw that justice was served. The issue that’s left is getting the defendant to pay the restitution so the Bairs can be paid.”
Darrell Bair said he doesn’t expect that this will ever happen. He said he realized a while ago that “the only relief I was going to get was (Jackson) sitting in jail …”
J.R. Haggerty, a representative for the state division of parole and probation, said sometimes people ordered to pay restitution do get sent to jail for not paying.
“It’s like buying a car,” Haggerty said, “If you don’t pay every day on the car, they’re going to take the car back. Here, they take the body back.”
Also, if a person has been trying to pay the victim but has not finished doing so by the end of probation, a judge can give the victim the opportunity to get the money through a civil court, by garnishing the defendant’s wages, for instance.
Civil court is where many of the complaints with contractors end up, said Lt. Jim Cupp, a commander at the sheriff’s substation in Dayton. He said this happens because most of the contract disputes aren’t criminal and, therefore, not investigated by police.
Art Nadler, a representative with the Nevada State Contractors Board, said people in growing areas like Dayton have to be particularly careful because of the large demand for construction work in their area.
He said common warning signs of a bad contractor include the contractor asking for cash before starting work, especially for more than 10 percent of the job, or if the contractor doesn’t have a five-digit contractor’s license number on company cards, vehicles or advertisements.
The Bairs acknowledged they should have been more cautious when picking a contractor, but said what matters is what happens with Jackson now.
“At least let me sleep at night knowing something has been done,” Darrell Bair said. “Instead of nothing being done.”
Picking a contractor
Ten tips from the Nevada State Contractors Board for picking a contractor:
• Hire only licensed contractors.
• Check the contractor’s license number by calling the Nevada State Contractors Board at 688-1141 in Northern Nevada or at http://www.nscb.state.nv.us.
• Get three references and review past work.
• Get at least three bids.
• Get a written contract and do not sign anything until the terms are completely understood.
• For pool contracts, pay 10 percent down or $1,000 – whichever is less, if a deposit is required.
• Don’t let payments get ahead of the work. Keep a record of all payments. Don’t make a final payment until you are satisfied with the job.
• Don’t pay cash.
• Keep a job file of all papers relating to your project.
• Check the contractor’s record with the Better Business Bureau in the area or visit the Web site at http://www.bbb.org.
• Contact reporter Dave Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.
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