ANNAPOLIS, Md. - You wouldn't pay $25-bucks for a cup of coffee, or $200 for a pizza, so would you pay thousands in mark-up for driveway paving?
That's what some claim they've been forced to do by an Annapolis contractor, who's reportedly taken victims from Maryland to the Carolinas.
A 6,400-square foot Annapolis mansion and a brand new cherry red Corvette in the driveway are obvious signs of the good life. And we think we know how one local contractor Tommy Clack can afford it.
Steve Smitson with the Maryland Home Improvement Commission says, "Mister Clack is a first class conman."
Clack, a so-called conman contractor, is rolling his victims for huge amounts of money according to authorities. ABC2 has talked with victims who paid between $13-15,000 for paving work.
Queen Anne’s County Sheriff Gary Hoffman has taken a report from a man who was billed $32,000.
Those bills for blacktop were poured as part of a paving operation ABC2 News has learned spans at least three states, involves at least five companies and hinges on an Annapolis man, Tommy Clack, who we’re told may use as many as four aliases.
Smitson says, "This is a very well organized criminal enterprise."
The Maryland Home Improvement commission says it has already taken complaints from more than a dozen Marylanders, according to Smitson. Most of those victims are seniors like 80-year-old Russell Gibson, who paid nearly $14,000 to cover his driveway.
He says, “I didn't haggle with him at all. I just said, ‘Oh my gracious. That's awful steep’."
Gibson tells us he paid that high price, even though he says he never actually committed to the work. When Clack showed up at his house last April with his shiny red trucks, Gibson told him to come back with an estimate.
But he explains, "When I happened to look up again they were out there tearing the driveway up. I thought well, it's got to be done now that they tore it up like that."
Gibson says he felt he had no choice but to pay. Neither did another 75-year-old Anne Arundel County homeowner we interviewed. He told us, “My thinking was - I've been had."
The homeowner, who asked not to be identified, says he was charged $15,000 for driveway work after Clack knocked on his door, even though he says he was quoted $10 a foot for paving or about $1,000. He explains, "I didn't question it.
Like a fool I didn't question it like I should have. But when he hit me with $15,000, that kind of blew my mind." That homeowner eventually wrote Clack two checks totaling $10,000 and later stopped payment on one, paying the contractor a total of $7,000 in the end.
Authorities say Clack specifically targets older people like the victims we spoke with, offering them same day high pressure paving at a discounted price that later gets bumped up big time.
Queen Anne’s County Sheriff Gary Hofmann has seen it happen in his jurisdiction, so he’s warning residents, “These fly by night contractors that are out there, they're going to ask for part of the money or all of the money.
But I can promise you, you're never going to see them again for any of the warranty work or any additional stuff that needs to be done. They're going to grab the money and go."
Clack certainly likes to keep his fleet on the move. He was banned by North Carolina's Attorney General after ignoring court orders to stop residential paving. He moved on to South Carolina, where he's facing criminal charges for swindling.
And by now we know he headed north to Maryland this spring and summer. Court records list him at that Annapolis mansion we told you about.
We made two visits to Clack's house, where trucks filled with equipment and labeled with the name County Asphalt sit parked in the driveway. We wanted answers, but Clack turned off the lights and hid when we came knocking.
And we know why. Lots of people feel they've been steamrolled. Here in Maryland, court records show Clack is facing charges for theft and operating without a license.
And the Maryland Home Improvement Commission is investigating 14 cases so far and counting. Smitson says, "Unfortunately we are confident there are additional victims out there."
Those victims could be just like Russell Gibson, who says the paving bill put a big hurt on his bank account, "It definitely takes a toll on you with that much money, one time. If he'd given me that price of $13,900, it never would have gotten done."
The number listed on Clack’s invoices is no longer in service. We reached out to his attorney, Crighton Chase, but he told us he couldn’t comment.
The Maryland Home Improvement Commission is asking anyone who thinks they've been victimized by Clack to come forward, either to their agency or local police.
You may recognize him under a different name. According to MHIC and local authorities, Tommy Clack is also