LATHROP, Mo. – The owner of an asphalt company for years has been accused of preying on customers by jacking up the price as soon as the work is done. Now he’s finally been caught on camera.
“I got a load or so of fresh hot mix asphalt.”
That’s the pitch Jerry Oliphant heard from the man standing at his front door. The man promised Oliphant he would sell him that extra load of asphalt for $28 per yard and estimated he had about 100 yards.
“If I’ve got less, it will be less,” the man told Oliphant. “If I’ve got more, then I’ll tell you I’ve got more. It will be your choice.“
Oliphant agreed to pay $2,800 to have 100 yards of asphalt laid on the driveway of his Lathrop home.
“They were almost three-quarters done, and that’s when come to me and told me it was going to be $13,000,” he said.
Oliphant said the man claimed his crew had laid 500 yards, even though no one had ever asked Oliphant for permission to lay all that extra asphalt. Oliphant refused to pay more than the $2,800 he’d agreed to.
“They threatened to sue me,” Oliphant said. “Threatened to put a lien on my house.”
Oliphant said he grew worried and finally agreed to pay $9,000 – just so the men would go away. He said it was after the men left that he did some research and found a story on FOX4 Problem Solvers about the same company. It was only then that he realized he’d been scammed.
That FOX4 Problem Solvers story was about an elderly Independence woman who was taken for $10,000 by a company called Alan’s Asphalt. An employee of the Buckner company was later convicted of defrauding the elderly.
Alan’s Asphalt was owned by the same man who rang Oliphant’s door bell – Jerry Alan Sawyer.
Sawyer has since changed the name of his asphalt company to Industrial Construction, but the phone number hasn’t changed.
Sawyer has a long list of unhappy customers dating as far back as 25 years. That’s when, according to court records, the state of Oregon wanted Sawyer on charges of racketeering and theft. Missoula, Montana, wanted him for fraud, so did Lee’s Summit and Maysville, Missouri.
In 2010, Sawyer was convicted in Kansas for pressuring an elderly couple to pay $8,000 for an asphalt overlay on their driveway. Sawyer returned some of the money and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft.
In 2018, an elderly couple in Lone Jack sued Sawyer for defrauding them, but no action has been taken on that lawsuit because no one has been able to find Sawyer to serve him.
Sawyer told Problem Solvers the incident at Oliphant’s house was nothing more than “innocent mass confusion.” Sawyer insisted he’s never defrauded anyone. However, just down the road from Oliphant’s Clinton County home, Problem Solvers met another unhappy customer.
Adam Holtzclaw said he was also promised a $2,800 asphalt job to fix one end of his driveway. So he was surprised when he saw the crew dump a second load of asphalt at the other end of his driveway where he hadn’t agreed to have any work done.
“I said, ‘What’s going on?’ and they told me, ‘Well we are going to do the whole driveway,’” Holtzclaw said.
The new price? $14,000.
“I said, ‘I’m not doing that. Just load that back up and take it,’” he said he told the crew, but they told him it was too late.
Holtzclaw didn’t buy it. He said had machinery on his farm and could load it back up himself. That’s when he said they started lowering that $14,000 price tag.
Holtzclaw eventually agreed to let them finish the job for $9,500 – but he wasn’t happy about it, feeling that he’d been scammed.
Both men have filed complaints with the Missouri Attorney General’s Office.