SAN ANTONIO – When Army veteran Tristan Seymour began searching online late last summer for a contractor to build a privacy fence, he went with the one who responded right away: a man who identified himself as Rene Elizondo.
An internet search of Elizondo and his company, Alamo Fence Co., did not return any information that Seymour considered troubling.
Elizondo, according to records obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders, told Seymour he could build an 8-foot privacy fence surrounding the North East side home passed down to Seymour’s mother for under $6,500.
The fence would replace a much smaller chain-link fence that had proven ineffective at keeping large dogs belonging to Seymour’s family in the backyard of the corner home.
The start of the project was delayed several months while Seymour and his family waited for the home to formally go through probate.
When Seymour reconnected with Elizondo this winter to begin the project, Elizondo tacked on an additional $2,500 to the estimate to cover a rise in the cost of materials, records show.
And while police records show Elizondo accepted more than $6,800 in payments for the fence work, in the form of checks written by the family in early January and early February, months later the work is nowhere near completion.
Carlos Rene Elizondo
Unbeknownst to Seymour, while he waited for the probate case to be finalized last fall, Elizondo was featured in a pair of Defenders investigations that revealed the convicted thief had changed the name of his fencing company and begun using his middle name, Rene, to do business after getting out of jail in early 2019.
Elizondo was sentenced to four years in jail in late 2017, after prosecutors moved to revoke his probation on four previous theft convictions when he picked up new charges.
The cases, which prompted a county court judge to call Elizondo a “wolf who preys on the sheep of society,” were among the 10 theft charges Elizondo racked up in less than three years, three of which included elderly victims.
Despite his attorney telling the judge in 2017 that Elizondo would never work in contracting again, records show Elizondo instead quickly returned to that line of work after serving less than a third of his jail sentence.
Seymour said he was unaware of Elizondo’s criminal history until earlier this year, after someone tipped him off to a Yelp review of Elizondo’s company that included links to stories about Elizondo done by KSAT and other media outlets.
While multiple law enforcement agencies in 2020 launched criminal investigations of Elizondo for new theft cases, records show he has so far avoided being criminally charged in connection to them.
Bexar County Sheriff’s investigators filed a theft case against Elizondo last fall, after a couple living in the Converse area said the contractor accepted $1,200 to build a backyard deck and then abandoned the job after installing four wood posts in concrete.
A spokeswoman for the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office has repeatedly refused to discuss the status or even the existence of that investigation, after BCSO investigators filed the case.
Another theft case against Elizondo filed with the Schertz Police Department was closed in late November, after Elizondo reimbursed a woman who had paid him $1,600 to install new sod at her home.
A third reimbursement check written to the woman went through, after two previous checks from Elizondo bounced, records show.
BCSO detectives this month opened another theft investigation of Elizondo in far west Bexar County, near the Medina County line, after a woman said she paid Elizondo $4,100 for work that was not completed.
After Elizondo agreed to move a fence, build a deck and repair two fences, he stopped working at the property without completing steps leading up to the deck and without repairing the two fences, BCSO officials said.
The woman who filed that criminal complaint said after Elizondo was contacted by BCSO investigators, he returned to the property this week and resumed the project.
“His craftsmanship is not near where it should be,” the woman told the Defenders via email Tuesday night.
BCSO officials on Wednesday said the woman no longer wanted to pursue criminal charges.
BCSO officials have asked anyone who believes they were victimized by Elizondo to call 210-335-6070.
“I started getting angry”
For Seymour, his fencing issues have only multiplied since hiring Elizondo.
The original chain link fence surrounding the home was removed months ago and Elizondo and his workers have not been back to the property since installing some four by fours in concrete earlier this year.
Seymour’s dogs have been forced to stay inside the home since November, causing damage to the interior of the house, he said.
Surveillance cameras on Seymour’s property show Elizondo arrive at the property in a rented U-haul pick-up truck twice in March and then leave after holding a few wooden posts in place.
As Seymour pointed out, Elizondo and his workers abandoned the job without even installing posts on all sides of the home, making it more difficult for another contractor to come in and finish the work.
An SAPD incident report filed April 14 includes allegations that Elizondo took property from Seymour, two checks, with the intention of not completing the agreed upon work.
The case is being investigated as a felony theft between $2,500 and $30,000, records show.
Elizondo, who has not been criminally charged in any case since 2017, would face felony charges this time around regardless of the dollar amount, since he has previously been convicted of theft two or more times in Texas.
“I started getting angry because I was like, ‘Okay, this guy is scamming me,’” said Seymour, who has continued to exchange text messages with Elizondo.
Last week, Elizondo told Seymour via text message he could not come to the home to work on the fence because he was walking in to file a report at SAPD’s North substation for stolen equipment.
SAPD officials, however, confirm they have no record of a report being filed under Elizondo’s name or under any of the names he has been known to do business as.
Elizondo also cleared the remaining balance Seymour owed for the project, because of Seymour’s “sacrifice to this great country,” text message records show.
Seymour was not pleased with Elizondo’s “gesture.”
“I have stuff in my backyard that I don’t want people to be able to walk off the street and grab,” said Seymour.
Reached by email this month, Elizondo confirmed to the Defenders he has continued to take on clients, even though he told customers last fall he was shutting down his business due to the skyrocketing cost of fencing material.
“Sometimes after work has been started, an internet search by these customers is done and they are made aware that I have made some business mistakes in my past. These customers normally cancel services and request a refund,” wrote Elizondo, who listed two clients he had recently refunded.
Neither of the clients were involved in the theft investigations opened against Elizondo this month, records show.
Anyone who believes they have information about thefts committed by Elizondo in San Antonio is asked to call SAPD Property Crimes at 210-207-2813.