BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The attorney for a contractor who has been the focus of several stories by the 9News Investigators begged a state board for mercy Wednesday.
Last month, the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors (LSLBC) nailed him with the maximum fine and told him to stop working. On Wednesday, March 14, they reconsidered that decision.
Tanweer Bhatti's name and face have become very familiar to the members of the LSLBC. According to their records, in the last eight years he has been affiliated with three companies that have been cited four times and has and an outstanding balance of $33,000 in fines. The latest penalty came last month.
Bhatti did not attend Wednesday's meeting, but Attorney Steven Watterson went before the board asking them to reduce the total amount of the fines so that Bhatti and the company he is a member of, Radiant Home Improvement, can get back to work.
"Right now, based on the cease and desist, we can't do any work at all, thus, they can't afford to pay anything," Watterson said.
Board member, Lloyd "Chip" Badeaux, suggested that the board work with Radiant Home Improvement to help collect some of the fines, while letting the company resume work.
"We are talking $33,000. Why don't the board come up with a reduction on both fines with a payment plan so they can get back to work and they have the capabilities of paying it," asked Badeaux.
But fellow board member, Jody Guidry, was quick to note Bhatti's past and urged them not to cut him any slack. "If we let this guy off, he's going to do it again," Guidry said.
After a brief discussion, the board decided against reducing the fine, but agreed to set up a payment plan which would allow Radiant Home Improvement to get back to work after the first payment is made.
"The thing that puts a little bit of a chance in that is the collection is directory tied to the continuance of his business license or commercial contractor's license," LSLBC Compliance Director Brad Hassert said.
Watterson said his client intends to pay up. "In regard to when he is going to pay, I say he will start to pay within a month so this company can get back to work," Watterson said.