Victims of alleged contractor fraud scheme say suspect used religion to lure them in

Weber family's gutted home (Source: WAFB)
Weber family's gutted home (Source: WAFB)
Receipt from Complete Construction Contractors (Source: WAFB)
Receipt from Complete Construction Contractors (Source: WAFB)

NEW ROADS, LA (WAFB) - A contractor accused of taking advantage of at least a dozen flood victims is out of jail after posting a more than $500,000 bond. Just days after 39-year-old Matthew Morris was arrested, some of his accusers are coming forward.

Combat veteran, Lee Weber, and his wife, Ashley, are two of those alleged victims. Referred by a friend, they say they were immediately drawn in by Morris' Christian-centered contracting business. Weber said part of a card they were sent on behalf of the company while they were considering signing on with the business said: "We know this began as a difficult season, but we pray the joy of the Lord continues to strengthen you daily."

It wasn't long though before they say the faith-fueled facade fell away to reveal something darker. Six months after the flood, the couple is still displaced from their Denham Springs home and is now living in New Roads with four kids and another on the way. They say soon after they signed with Morris, they noticed his true intentions.

"It was just a sham, just a way to let your guard down and get you to trust him," Weber said.

According to the couple, they had gutted their own home and handed over a $1,000 deposit through Complete Construction Contractors. They paid more than $36,000 for work they say was never finished, saying Morris sanitized the house, but did nothing more. After complaining to the contractor, they say he would make excuses and intimidate them into riding out the contract. They ended up paying another $10,000 to terminate the agreement, but not before they say Morris had made off with more than $52,000 of their insurance money.

"Money was on his mind and he didn't care how he got it," Weber added. "We paid him and $52,000 later and it still looked the same as when I gave him my first draw."

Ascension District Attorney Ricky Babin said it is an all too familiar story. His office was instrumental in getting charges brought against Morris.

"I don't know about how long or how deep this has been going on, but I can tell you there's a consistent pattern in this parish and this jurisdiction and that's certainly what caught our attention," Babin said.

Babin said he has spoken with representatives from other parishes and believes additional charges are possible because other agencies are looking into the contractor as well.

"There's some neighboring parishes that have similar situations and I believe there's ongoing investigations in other areas," said Babin.

The Webers say they have already gotten another contractor and hope to be home by June. They say they have let go of the anger and instead are praying for the man they say took so much from them.

"One of Christ's principles is to forgive and pray for those who persecute you," Weber added.

9News reached out to Morris' office for comment, but did not get a response.

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