Bexar DA's Elder Fraud Unit investigating local roofers accused of targeting elderly
Owners facing more than two dozen charges, victims dealing with financial losses
SAN ANTONIO – Last year, June Yenco lost thousands of dollars when she did business with Richard Stevens and Mark Rodriguez. She hired their roofing company, Durizon Roofing and Construction, to fix her home after April's historic hailstorm.
Like hundreds of other Durizon customers, Yenco lost her insurance money and was left with a damaged roof.
The Defenders broke the story last year, just before the contractors were arrested by San Antonio police.
That case is now in the hands of a specialized unit at the Bexar County District Attorney's Office.
Yenco said she first encountered a salesman from Durizon in January of 2016. He came knocking on her door days after a storm had hit and offered her a free roof inspection.
"He went up on the roof and he came down and he said, 'Every thing's fine. You don't need anything done, it looks good,'" Yenco recalled.
When her Northwest side home was hit by large hailstones a few months later, in April, she decided to call the Durizon salesman for help.
"I didn't know of a roofer and I thought that young man was honest because he could have told me anything the first time and I believed him that nothing was wrong so I called him," Yenco said. "I said, 'You were out a couple of months ago. Would you come out again?' and he did. My insurance company came out and they were both here at the same time. And they said, 'Oh yeah I needed a new roof. Everything was bad."
Yenco signed a contract with Durizon for $7,374.44 and gave the salesman a check for $5,779.79 to get the job started. Soon after handing over the check, Yenco began getting the run-around.
"They were going to start on the roof by the end of May and it didn't happen," Yenco said. "Then they were going to start on the roof by the end of June and it didn't happen."
Yenco said she made several attempts to contact Durizon and eventually hired an attorney, filing a civil lawsuit for breach of contract.
In the months after signing with Durizon, she learned she wasn't the only customer who wasn't getting the new roof she paid for.
"I started to do a little research and found out that Durizon's credit was so bad they couldn't buy the supplies. That's why there were no supplies coming," Yenco said.
When Yenco learned Durizon's owners had been arrested in November 2016 she was relieved.
"If I never get a cent out of this, just watching them be arrested and taken away in handcuffs in a police car brought a smile to my face," Yenco said. "At least I know they are going to answer for what they've done."
Mark Rodriguez and Richard Stevens were both indicted by a grand jury in September this year on numerous counts.
Rodriguez was hit with 26 counts: theft of elderly $150,000 to $300,000, a first-degree felony; theft of $150,000 to $300,000, a second degree felony; 23 counts of exploitation of the elderly, a third-degree felony; and one repeater count because he had been previously convicted of murder and was out on parole.
Stevens was hit with the same charges, minus the repeater count.
Based on the investigation it appears Rodriguez and Stevens used their business to target older victims.
Yenco said her husband is in care for Alzheimer's and she's been learning to take care of things he used to be in charge of.
"Until eight or so years ago, my husband did everything. Now it all falls on me and it's all new to me. I've never done this kind of thing before," Yenco said. "I felt really dumb at the time that I had given them my check."
Bexar County District Attorney Nicholas "Nico" LaHood said he hates criminals who take advantage of the elderly just as much as he hates murderers. He said criminals who target older people and the elderly often prey on their trust.
"It's not that these people are stupid. I think that they're trusting and naive, not disrespectfully naive, I mean lovingly naive," LaHood said. "Not everyone is an expert in roofing or how to deal with insurance companies and financial matters and transferring and all those sort of things, and so they just trust people. They seem to be legitimate and then they end up getting taken."
In the case of the Durizon roofers, LaHood said his office has identified at least 119 victims.
Because many of them are older, he's turned the case over to his Elder Fraud Unit, a specialized team of prosecutors dedicated to handling cases of financial abuse of older citizens in Bexar County.
"We have about 168 cases open on the financial side of elderly fraud right now as we speak," LaHood said. "Many of our victims, that was their life savings. They had saved up to live off their hard work or to pass on to their family or their lineage and I think that should be taken serious so that's why I support this unit and we've really expanded it."
In addition to prosecuting crimes against the elderly, LaHood said the unit also tries to be proactive by reaching out to community organizations that serve the elderly, providing them tips in hopes of preventing them from falling victim to fraud and scams.
"We like to be proactive and really try to educate these different communities to let them know here's what to look for," he said. "Here's maybe some suggestions to set up your financial affairs and designate someone you trust and have some checks and balances so it doesn't become a reactionary situation where we're trying to get back money and prosecute someone for taking advantage of them."
LaHood said anyone caught taking advantage of the elderly will face serious consequences.
"You will operate as long as you think you're going to operate but I promise you, every dog has their day and you will be caught," LaHood said. "It's not if, it's just a matter of when, and then when you're brought to this office you will be treated fairly but you will get what you deserve. It's that simple."
June Yenco estimates she's lost a total of about $12,000 since signing with Durizon and being ripped off by them. That includes the cost to have a new roof put on by a different company.
Through all of it, she said she's lost her trust in people and learned a valuable lesson.
"Don't pay anything until the job is done," Yenco said. "Until everything is completed to your satisfaction, don't give anybody any money."
The second time around, Yenco chose a roofing contractor with the help of her daughter.
LaHood said he advises older citizens to choose at least two people they trust, whether it's family members or friends, that they can use for help when making financial decisions or signing contracts just to serve as extra checks and balances.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez and Stevens are awaiting their day in court to answer to the charges.
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