SAN ANTONIO – More than 20 customers in San Antonio and surrounding communities tell the KSAT 12 Defenders the owner of a window replacement company accepted their deposits and then abruptly shut down operations.
About half of the customers of the Republic of Texas Window Company who spoke with the Defenders in recent weeks have filed complaints against owner James Hunter Townsend with local law enforcement, the Texas Attorney General’s Office, or both.
Townsend, 35, told the Defenders via text message this month that he left town due to threats made against him and his family, after his decision to close the company down.
“Window Replacement Done Right”
A large sign above the door at Republic of Texas’ warehouse near San Antonio International Airport reads “Window Replacement Done Right.”
Look down a few feet and a typed letter reveals a much different message. A leasing company changed out the locks on June 13 due to delinquent payment of rent.
At Republic’s other listed business address in Selma, it’s a similar story. The doors are locked and the workspace has been cleared out.
Asked about the sudden exodus of Townsend’s company, a representative of that leasing company told the Defenders via text message this month Townsend “doesn’t possess what I would call ‘admirable qualities.’”
Townsend’s home in Schertz is vacant and its front door is secured with a large padlock.
It remains unclear when Townsend, who filed formal paperwork to open Republic of Texas Window Company in March 2021, shut down his year-old company.
A source familiar with the window company going out of business said Townsend laid off his staff in early May and claimed he would file for bankruptcy and use insurance to help reimburse those customers who paid deposits but had not yet had their windows delivered and installed.
Public files for United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas, however, show no record of Townsend or his company filing for bankruptcy protection.
Heike Heath put down more than $7,300 for new windows at her Garden Ridge ranch house in February and said Townsend told her it could take up to 16 weeks to have the windows built.
She realized something was amiss after she and her husband returned from an out-of-state trip this summer.
“June 1st, I tried to call and none of the numbers were working,” said Heike Heath.
“We’re offended, we’re hurt. But a lot of shock this could happen as close to home as it did,” said her husband John Heath.
“It sounded reputable,” said retired Naval chaplain Leo Guarnieri, when asked why he hired Republic of Texas Window Company to replace the downstairs windows at his home on the north end of Canyon Lake.
Now, months later, Guarnieri is out more than $6,400 and the bottom level of his home still has its old windows.
“I’d like to see the guy thrown in jail. (But) that’s not going to get me my money,” said Guarnieri.
A flurry of criminal complaints were filed by customers against Townsend with law enforcement agencies and the AG’s office beginning the second week of May, records show.
Guarnieri and the Heaths are among at least four former clients of Townsend to report him to the Comal County Sheriff’s Office for felony theft of service.
A CCSO official this month, however, said via email the elements of a criminal offense have not yet been met.
“If the elements of criminal offense are met, we will continue to investigate,” the official said via email on June 15.
Other agencies that have received criminal complaints against Townsend from customers in recent weeks include the San Antonio Police Department and Grey Forest PD, records show.
Victims told the Defenders they have filed complaints against Townsend with law enforcement agencies in Medina County, Lakeway and with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.
Victims also told the Defenders they paid Townsend deposits ranging from a couple of thousand dollars to nearly $21,000.
At least two of Townsend’s victims have been able to get their bank to temporarily reimburse the funds while conducting independent fraud investigations.
That attempt at reimbursement appears to only be an option for those customers who used a credit or debit card to pay the deposit and so far does not apply to those people who used a personal check.
History of theft, forgery, felony family violence
Townsend’s criminal history in Texas dates back nearly two decades and includes arrests and incarcerations in several parts of the state.
Customers who spoke with the Defenders said they were unaware of his past run-ins with the law, which include arrests for criminal mischief and misdemeanor theft of property.
Townsend was convicted of felony property theft in Cameron County in April 2010, Texas Department of Public Safety records show.
Townsend was convicted of felony forgery in August 2011 in Nueces County, records show.
Months later, in December 2011, Townsend was again convicted of a felony in Cameron County, this time for the offense of assaulting a family member twice within 12 months.
He was sentenced to serve two years, court records show.
Townsend was convicted of felony property theft in Travis County in late 2013, records show.
Townsend did not respond to a phone call seeking an interview for this story.
Asked via text where Townsend disappeared to, he responded, “I left town because of threats made to myself and my wife because of the situation we are in. We did not want a discruntled (sic) costomer (sic) to possibly scare our children at home.”
“I think it’s baloney,” said Guarnieri, who turns 74 next month. “People just want their windows, or they want the return of their money. Doing harm to him or his family, that’s a ludicrous thought. That’s a cover-up for why he left town.”
People associated with Townsend’s former business operation have speculated that he has relocated to the Corpus Christi area.
Townsend declined to say where he went but claimed via text what he did is not theft because “theft implies intent and our only intention was to provide the people of san antonio (sic) with afordable (sic) windows and expert craftsmanship we have installed lots of happy costomers (sic) and if the company had the funds to keep operating it would be operating today.”
Republic of Texas Window Company aired commercials monthly on KSAT from September 2021 to early May, before Townsend said he had to put the advertising campaign on hold due to shipping delays.
Townsend has not been criminally charged and his company has not been found liable in connection to any of the complaints filed against him by customers the past six weeks, records show.