SAN ANTONIO – The owners of a failed San Antonio roofing company were arrested Thursday morning and are facing criminal charges after customers complained the business took tens of thousands of dollars in insurance checks without ever doing any work on their homes.
San Antonio police arrested Richard Stevens and Mark Rodriguez and charged them with theft of the elderly ranging from $30,000-$150,000.
Durizon Roofing and Construction went under in August, leaving customers with damaged homes and little or no money left to make the needed repairs to their homes.
The pair had owned another construction company, called Castle Rock Construction, that also went out of business under similar circumstances and resulted in lawsuits.
The Defenders spent months talking to customers who claimed Durizon stole their insurance money.
Shubjit Bajwa hired Durizon to repair her home that was damaged by the historic hail storm that hit San Antonio in April. She gave them over $3,100 up front.
After months of empty promises, Bajwa and other Durizon customers confronted Mark Rodriguez and demanded their money back.
Rodriguez talked them into giving him one more chance and wrote out new contracts, promising to complete the work or return their money.
"He promise me. He even sign it. He said I'm really sorry and he was so convincing," Bajwa said. "He said, 'I promise you I'm gonna fix your roof.'"
Days later, Durizon's offices were closed, and customers couldn't reach Rodriguez or Stevens.
"Nobody to call to contact and I'm just scared what's gonna happen," Bajwa said. "Half of my money is gone."
Several customers said they hired Durizon after they sent salesmen to their neighborhood following April's storm. Others said they hired them because their neighbors recommended them.
The Defenders obtained documents from the Texas Attorney General revealing at least 44 complaints against Durizon. The documents showed some customers signed over checks for a little as $1,500 while others gave as much as $12,000.
Anthony Aguerro, a disabled veteran, hired Durizon to repair hail damage from a storm that hit in April 2015. He said he never got his repairs and is out nearly $4,500.
"We just signed over the check, and they told me they'd be in contact," Aguerro said. "They just disappeared off the face of the planet."
The city of San Antonio revoked Durizon's license to operate when the complaints came pouring in.
At the same time, the San Antonio Police Department also opened an investigation. Sgt. Jesse Salame said they had accumulated more than 50 cases and were working closely with the District Attorney's Office to file those cases.
Two customers have also sued Durizon, alleging breach of contract, theft and deceptive trade practices.
Anthony Aguerro said he believes there may even be a case for insurance fraud, because his mortgage company told him they never signed off on his insurance check.
"Looking at the back of the check, someone signed off on it on behalf of my mortgage company," Aguerro said. "I would say that someone at Durizon probably forged my mortgage company's signature."
Many of the customers are paying out of their own pockets to repair their homes. They hope Rodriguez and Stevens face consequences for their actions.
"I understand that businesses do go under from time to time, but I think in this case, this is just a con job," customer Ana Brown said.
"They should receive the punishment that they deserve and they should be made to make reparations for all the customers," Aguerro said.
Before he was arrested, the Defenders tracked down Rodriguez at his home. He said he was not a crook, just a businessman who failed.
"We grew too fast. And the work was way ahead of what we could do, and we got so far behind, and now we're just struggling to keep up," Rodriguez said. "What really did us in was not having a bunch of credit to be able to get a lot of this work done, and in the end, that's what held us up."
Rodriguez said the money the company took from customers was spent on the business, not himself.
"Part of it went to payroll, part of it went to salesmen, most of it went to do other jobs," Rodriguez said. "I didn't go buy a Ferrari. I didn't go to Vegas. I didn't get an airplane. That would be wrong. I was able to pay my bills consistently, and I don't live in a mansion."
Rodriguez said the collapse of the business has left him in financial ruin.
"I borrowed money from my family, from my father. He's put up property to get us out of this. I might lose my house, my cars. I get calls from people that I owe, and I'm just trying to dig my way out of it," Rodriguez said. "I'm just living day by day. I have $20 right now in my pocket."
Rodriguez said he was still trying to make things right for his customers, even doing some of the work by himself for little or no payment. He said he does not deserve to go to jail.
"If I directly took money and never planned to do anything with that, then I would say I was guilty. However, I've taken care of a lot of customers, as many as I can. I've done all I can, because I really do care about my customers," Rodriguez said. "If they still want me to do the work, I'll do whatever I can to try to get them done. If they want their money back, I understand. I'm sorry. We'll file Chapter 11. If I have to spend the rest of my life paying you back, I will."
Both men said they've done nothing wrong. Stevens proclaimed his innocence as he was led to a patrol car in handcuffs.
"We're still here. We haven't left town. Actually, we're doing work, so it's just a big misunderstanding. We're going to get it all worked out in court," Stevens said.
Salame said both men could face additional charges as the investigation continues. He also said others who worked for Durizon could soon be facing charges.