A Kent, Washington man who left botched and unfinished landscape jobs behind despite accepting thousands of dollars in payments is facing criminal charges. Honorio Mendez-Ortega, 42, has been indicted on four counts of performing or offering to perform work as a construction contractor without being registered by the state.
Prosecutors filed charges against the man following investigations by the state’s Department of Labor and Industries (L&I). Customers found Mendez-Ortega through an online construction referral service and Craigslist.
Unscrupulous operators cast legitimate landscape contractors in a bad light. Even worse, this man advertised under real company names and licenses that didn’t belong to him. He also used several personal aliases.
In one of his more recent alleged frauds, he accepted over $32,000 to landscape a yard and build an outdoor kitchen and patio for a Renton couple. After quitting in the middle of construction, he refused to finish the job or return the client’s money. The small amount of work that was completed was so shoddy it had to be redone by someone else.
The company name he used was registered to a man in California. Mendez-Ortega told the couple to make the checks out to him personally.
This man has a long history of L&I infractions for unregistered contracting, racking up $84,000 in fines, unpaid wages, and worker’s compensation insurance premiums. He also owes the state $151,000 in back taxes.Construction contractors in Washington state are supposed to register with L&I. Being registered means that a contractor has liability insurance, a business license, and a bond, giving customers some recourse should problems arise.