The Investigators: Warrant issued for Gonzales businessman who allegedly ripped off customers

The Investigators: Warrant issued for Gonzales businessman who allegedly 'gypped' customers

GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - Some homeowners who invested thousands of dollars in home renovations said they were blindsided by a Gonzales business owner.

At least two homeowners reported they were duped, and they want their money back.

9News Investigator, Cheryl Mercedes, learned the man they bargained with may be dodging them and the law.

Delores White settled into her Gonzales home nine years ago. She loves her house but said this summer she was ready for a few upgrades.

"I wanted to pull up this carpet and put down some ceramic floors, paint, and just give it a new look," White said.

White said a few weeks ago she stopped by Flooring Perfectionist on Highway 44 and met with the owner, Frank Gooden.

"He came out the same day, gave me an estimate, and told me I needed to put half of the money down in order to get the supplies and stuff,"
White said.

White showed 9News Investigators the detailed estimate she said Gooden gave her. The total amount was $2,900 for labor and materials. On August 10, White put down $1,450. She said Gooden told her it would take two weeks for the flooring to come in. White said when she did not hear from him, she began to worry.

"When I called and kept getting a busy signal a lot went through my mind. I was like, I know this is not the fax number. So I decided to go and that's when I saw it, the eviction notice, on the door. I was like oh my God, this man has my money," White said.

Frustrated and out $1,450, White filed a complaint with the Gonzales Police Department and the Louisiana Attorney General. She said she has also had to come up with another $3,600 to have another company do the work. She also learned that Gooden allegedly ripped off another one of his customers.

"The same day I went to go see about more flooring and another lady went to see about flooring and a guy at the store said another lady was going through the same thing I was going through," White said.

That woman is Stephanie Laquerre.

"This was devastating to my family. We were at the end of the remodeling job," Laquerre said.

She told 9News she hired Gooden to do $10,000 worth of work to her new home.

"He came to the house to inspect the slab, the flooring that is already there. There were no issues," Laquerre said.

Like White, Laquerre, put down 50 percent of the total amount due. According to invoices and receipts she showed 9News, she paid $5,000 on June 22. She tells us Gooden was supposed to start work in September, but when she called last week to confirm no one answered.

"The phone went straight to voicemail, a full voicemail. So I couldn't leave a message. The business phones were disconnected," Laquerre said.

Laquerre said when she went to the business, the lights were off, the doors were locked, and she too saw the eviction notice posted on the window.

"I got on social media. I called cell phone numbers trying to contact them," Laquerre said.

Laquerre said last week, Gooden's son, Zach, who also worked at Flooring Perfectionist, responded with a Facebook message apologizing for what had happened. He also wrote, his dad got a job offer out of state and had to leave. He also mentioned the business was in financial trouble, and that his dad would call her with an explanation the next day.

Laquerre said she has not heard from Frank.

"I had to go to another flooring store. We had to pay for it all over again," Laquerre said.

Laquerre filed a report with the Gonzales Police Department. The next day there was a warrant issued for Gooden's arrest. He is wanted for felony theft.

Detectives tell 9News so far they have not been able to locate him. Laquerre and White said they are not giving up.

"I am going to still do whatever I can to track him down," Laquerre said.

9News reached out to Frank and Zach Gooden but got no response.

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