Criminal charges filed against Hobart contractor
by Lori Caldwell email@example.com|648-3258 November 13, 2012 4:22PM
David Ferner | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 15, 2012 6:21AM
HOBART — David Ferner, owner of Alligator Construction, operates his home repair business like a Ponzi scheme, police said Tuesday.
“He’s taking money from new customers to do work on another job he doesn’t have the cash to finish,” Detective James Gonzales said after obtaining criminal charges against Ferner, 47, of Hobart.
Ferner is charged with felony theft and two counts of misdemeanor home improvement fraud for failing to complete a job for a senior citizen couple in Merrillville.
His business problems surfaced last month when Hobart residents Phil Anderson and Amy Kazen filed a fraud report with police, claiming Ferner took more than $11,000 as a down payment to add two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs.
Demolition began weeks after the agreement was signed, then the work halted.
After several broken promises to get the job done or repay the money, Ferner did give the couple a portion of their deposit.
Ferner told the Post-Tribune at the time that he was waiting to receive a check on a recently completed job before he could proceed with the work or return the couple’s money.
Kazen said Tuesday she is not pursuing the criminal matter, preferring to sue him in civil court.
She will be present at an upcoming bankruptcy hearing, she said. Ferner and his wife, Maryann, have sought protection from creditors by filing for bankruptcy several times.
But problems with submitting required documents, such as tax returns, and other compliance issues, have halted the bankruptcies.
Bankruptcy records show Ferner has not filed federal income tax returns since 2005. He has changed the name of the company with the Indiana Secretary of State’s office at least twice in recent years, public records show.
Alligator Construction was originally located at 223 Center St., but moved to the 100 block of Illinois Street last month when Ferner was evicted, court records show.
Several companies that sold him building materials are suing him in Lake Superior Court. He also owes almost $40,000 in child support.
Lake County police are also investigating a complaint against Ferner on behalf of a Winfield couple who paid him to replace their siding.
The old siding was removed but the house has been sitting exposed for months while they wait for the work to be done.
Hobart building official Mike Hannigan said he has received complaints about Ferner, but because none of them involved the work product, the city has not taken action to rescind his business license.
A Lake Station couple sued Ferner when a home remodeling project wasn’t completed. They won a judgment and the city recalled Ferner’s business license. Police there are investigating a criminal case in that incident as well.