Contractor’s empty promises draw attention of Johnson County, Kan., district attorney

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The last time FOX 4 Problem Solvers saw Todd Smith, he was trying to get away from us as quickly as he could. With a camera rolling, we tried to ask him about two homeowners who claimed he owed them thousands of dollars after never completing work on their homes.

He promised he would reimburse people, except he hasn't.

Now those angry homeowners have company. This month the Johnson County District Attorney filed suit against Smith, accusing him of his company Massif Home Works of defrauding five people out of more than $50,000. District Attorney Stephen Howe has asked that Smith not only return the money he took, but be banned from ever advertising or selling a product in Johnson County according to the lawsuit.

This latest legal action is the second time the DA's office has sued Smith. Last year Smith was ordered to repay another Johnson County homeowner $6,300.

Brian Bartelli wishes he had known Smith's history before he gave Smith a $4,500 deposit to replace a wooden deck at his Overland Park home.

"He had references," Bartelli said. "He was a licensed contractor in Johnson County. He had insurance. I did all my background checks."

What Bartelli didn't realize is that Smith had recently changed his company's name from Massif Home Works to Tree Top Lawn and Landscaping. It was a company so new it had almost no Internet history.

It was only when Bartelli became suspicious of Smith and searched for his name under Google images that he found a FOX 4 Problem Solver story about Smith and learned of his past. Bartelli demanded his money back.

"He promised to repay me and he promised to for two months to repay me and I haven't seen a penny," Bartelli said, who now hopes the DA's office might include him in its lawsuit.

FOX 4 Problem Solvers tried to reach Todd Smith, but has yet to hear back.