*Update: FOX4 Problem Solvers learned on February 13 that John Cazzell finally made good on his promise and reimbursed the Guiffres the remaining $3,000 they were owed.*
PARKVILLE, Mo. -- Simply put John Cazzell was not happy to see FOX4 Problem Solvers after we paid an impromptu visit to his Northland business.
"I don't want any pictures please," said Cazzell, the owner of Four Seasons Lawn and Landscape in Parkville.
Problem Solvers understands Cazzell's hesitation to have his face on the news. He’s a professional landscaper with a history of cheating customers.
Unfortunately, Tom and Susan Guiffre only discovered that after they gave Cazzell a $4,500 deposit to landscape their Liberty home.
As Problem Solvers first reported a few months ago, Cazzell never did the work. The Guiffres demanded their money back. When they never got it, they contacted FOX4 Problem Solvers.
"He's afraid of what you guys can do to his business," said Tom Guiffre, referring to Cazzell. "He told me you are hurting his business. I said, 'No, John, look in the mirror. You are the one hurting your business.'"
After Problem Solvers aired a story about Cazzell and Four Seasons Lawn and Landscape, Cazzell gave the couple $1,000 of the $4,500 he owed and promised to deliver the rest by the end of the year.
So what happened?
"No money, no check, no John," Guiffre said.
Problem Solvers paid a visit to Cazzell’s business where we found him behind his desk.
We reminded Cazzell that not only had he broken his promise to us to repay the Guiffres, but he was also ignoring a court judgment the Guiffres received after suing Cazzell in court. FOX4 also informed him that the Missouri Attorney General was investigating.
“All that will go away,” Cazzell said.
That statement provided insight into how Cazzell thinks. No matter how many times he’s sued or investigated, Cazzell’s answer is to do nothing and eventually the people who are upset will give up and go away.
Unfortunately, Cazzell is right.
Most police departments won’t investigate cases like this, as the Guiffres discovered. Police told the Guiffres that Cazzell’s actions were a civil matter – although Missouri law allows for the criminal prosecution of people who take money for a service, but fail to provide it.
A complaint to the attorney general’s office often results in nothing more than a warning -- unless there are a multitude of victims forcing the state to take action.
Even filing a lawsuit won’t work if the person being sued doesn’t care enough to show up to court because they have no intention of ever paying the judgment. Just look at the more than 60 lawsuits filed against Cazzell -- some dating back more than 20 years -- to understand how he operates.
That’s why Cazzell of Four Seasons Lawn and Landscape is now an official member of the FOX4 Problem Solvers Hall of Shame.
Where does that leave the Guiffres? They are the latest victims of a business owner who knows how to work a legal system that favors those who cheat. The lesson here is that if any contractor asks for money up front, first check references and know who you are dealing with.
A quick way to investigate a business is to look at their rating on the Better Business Bureau. Four Seasons Lawn and Landscape has an "F" rating.
You should also review court records to see how many times the company and its owner have been sued. In Missouri and Johnson County, Kansas, you can easily find those records online.