The Investigators: Former employee of Matthew Morris spills all

Matthew Morris (Source: Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office)
Matthew Morris (Source: Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office)

(WAFB) - The sound of hammers and saws is usually what's heard when walking into a home that flooded in August, but in one Denham Springs home, it's all quiet.

Instead, inside Courtney Stricklin's flooded home, a bathtub is in the living room.

"I signed a contract with Complete Construction and as everyone is aware I'm sure, my house is left in shambles," said Stricklin.

Stricklin said she hired contractor Matthew Morris to do the repairs, the same Morris who's been arrested by multiple agencies on accusations of contractor fraud. She says she hired Morris because she worked for him. When the August flood came, she was about a month into her job.

"It got to a point where all the initial gutting of the homes was done and people had questions. What's the next step? And instead of being able to go to Matt and get valid answers, we were told to put them off, to say things like, 'We're still doing emergency services at other homes. We'll let you know when that's done,'" said Stricklin.

Having worked in construction all her life, she said there's usually a set plan on every job from start to finish, but she said things were different with Morris. When asked when she realized something was wrong, Stricklin responded, "When there was so much work to be done and nothing was being done. Excuses were being made and people were being put off and it was no longer about helping people. It was about getting money."

It's why she said she left her job in mid-September. "I just had enough and realized something was not quite right, and I didn't want to be a part of whatever he had going on," said Stricklin.

When it came to her own home, she said she paid Morris $5,000 out of pocket, plus an initial $10,000 check from her insurance. Then she said he wanted even more. When she refused to pay, she said Morris put a lien on her home. By this time, she had quit working for him.

Documents show the lien was in the amount of $36,943.76.

"I was absolutely floored," said Stricklin.

Cristie Adry is also fighting a lien on her flooded antique shop on Tigerbend Rd., also from Matthew Morris. She said she found out about Morris through her daughter.

"My son-in-law and daughter had been in a bible study with Matt Morris," said Andry.

Andry said she gave him $20,000, but became suspicious when no work was being done. Then at the end of October, she realized something wasn't right. She then received a bill from Morris' company in the amount of $31,726.08. On top of that, she got another bill for $40,341.19 to remove asbestos and finish the gutting.

"So my invoices are $72,000 for a 1,900 sq. ft. building of which, and he thinks this is $32,000 worth of work," said Andry.

Documents show "the amount of the lien is $33,128.25."

The Andrys questioned what was taking so long. "Well, what's to stop you from taking three years and charging us $350,000 to do this job? And he just sort of laughed and looked at the girl, one of his assistants and said, 'How much is the Andry insurance policy limit?' So she looks up our policy limit and she said, '$225,000,' and he looks at us with a smirk on his face and said, 'I won't have any trouble hitting that,'" said Andry.

Morris has since been arrested in Ascension Parish twice for contractor fraud, plus additional arrests in both Livingston Parish and Baton Rouge.

"Rage, anger. My heart hurts for the so many victims of him and I just don't understand how he's gotten away with this for so long," said Stricklin.

Stricklin has since been able to successfully get the lien removed on her home. Andry, however, is still fighting to get her alleged contractor fraud complaint filed. She said the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office told her that her particular case is a civil case, not a criminal matter.

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