Arrested contractor/firefighter new developments

BENTON, LA (KSLA) - A Shreveport Fire Captain and flooring subcontractor speaks out against a fellow firefighter and building contractor.  Capt. Harold Johnson wants the public to know that the felony charge against Richard Lopez, for not paying subcontractors, is far more serious than being described.

Johnson contacted KSLA News 12 immediately after Wednesday night's report on Richard Lopez.  Johnson told us the case against Lopez is 'not' about a weak housing market and getting caught juggling too many homes.  Johnson insisted, this case became criminal because Lopez used other people's money that they paid him as the houses were being built... and not so-called 'spec' homes, typically built by, and then sold by a general contractor.

And now, we've learned that Lopez did not renew his building contractor's license.  We went to the web site of the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors and discovered Lopez's license expired in December, about the same time all of his other troubles began.  That's just one of many new facts we've unearthed.

"As of right now, he's got an outstanding balance of 27-thousand dollars," said Harold Johnson about Lopez's unpaid bill.  Much of it involved Johnson's repair work inside one of the four homes in question in Benton's Woodlake Ridge subdivision, work covered by insurance and filed by Lopez.  "So, he was paid from the insurance company and he didn't pay me.  It's just a result of what happened," continued Johnson.

So, Johnson placed a non-payment lien on that property.  Now Johnson and the homeowner have filed complaints with the LA Insurance Commission. We tried to catch up with Lopez at his office for a response:

FERRELL:  "Hi, how are you?"


FERRELL:  "I'm Jeff Ferrell with Channel 12.  We're looking for Richard Lopez."

His wife, Stephanie Lopez, told us she had no idea where to find her husband.  Compounding their financial problems, the lopezs' own Electric Beach Tanning.  The property manager at the Bert Kouns location taped the doors shut with all the equipment inside and posted an eviction notice.

Among the many subcontractors owed money is Henson Carpet One, located at the foot of the Jimmie Davis Bridge in Bossier City.  Owner John Henson told us that Richard Lopez owed them 56-thousand dollars at one time.  Lopez has since whittled that down to 18-thousand, which now is exactly the amount of a lien put on his 1.3 million dollar house.

Henson recalled, "in '07 we kind of cut him off and at that time he had written us a hot check for 31-thousand some-odd dollars."  Henson said a technicality made it impossible for the district attorney to prosecute.

We also discovered Lopez's own home has fallen into foreclosure.  Those owed thousands of dollars say there is little sympathy for him.  In fact, Henson added, "all I can say is, when you start a business don't go build yourself a six thousand square foot home and let other people pay for it."

Henson said such cases only make it *that much tougher* for new builders to get started and be given a chance to succeed, often with a line of credit.  Henson received a court judgment in his favor against Lopez.  But if the house is seized, he'll likely not re-coup that final 18-thousand dollars.