KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A metro church is finally getting the work done it desperately needs. The pastor says a local contractor and his company took more than $80,000 from their insurance company and ran.
“We thank God for the lesson. We learned the lesson well,” said Barbara Herndon, the Pastor of St. Mary’s Grand Holy Tabernacle Church.
St. Mary’s Grand Holy Tabernacle Church needed a new roof after a big storm. The church hired Adam Van Pelt with Van Pelt Contracting, submitted the paperwork to insurance, and thought they’d be on their way.
“When I was a young person, the church was a sacred place,” added Herndon.
The church used the insurance money to pay him up front for the costly repairs: “It was bringing the building up to code, because the building was built in 1953, and so things that were okay in 1953 are not okay now by the city,” Herndon said.
But after paying Van Pelt almost $82,000 — the roof was still damaged, and Van Pelt was nowhere to be found.
“He goes after big commercial buildings, churches, and one of his genres that he used to say was, how can insurance companies take advantage of churches, and I thought to myself when I saw your story, and saw what he did to that church, what a hypocrite,” said Kit Smith, a subcontractor.
Kit Smith says he worked with Van Pelt on multiple projects in the Kansas City area for about 14 months, but cut ties after he wasn’t getting paid for his work.
“It was progressive… this excuse, or we can’t pay those bills right now,” Smith described. “When I started asking where my check is coming from, when am I going to get paid, there was avoidance. He owes me more than $80,000.”
The church spent another $20,000 to fix the roof with another company. They still need new electricity, plumbing, and major construction changes to bring the building up to code.
Now — more than a year since FOX 4 first covered this story — the church has finally been approved for a loan, but it is still out more than $80,000.
“The lawyer did all the investigating that needed to be done, nothing could be done, and found that there were other suits against the company,” said Herndon.
Adam Van Pelt has not been convicted of anything criminally in the state of Missouri —but has 20 different cases against him and the company comprised of small claims and tax liens.
“He’s a predator, he’s looking for the money, and doesn’t care about the end result,” said Smith.
Multiple calls to the number we have for Van Pelt and Van Pelt Contracting went unreturned.