News | Communication Services, 360-902-5400 - PublicAffairs@Lni.wa.gov

Jail time for unregistered contractor who vacationed in Hawaii after swindling consumers out of $18K

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April 28, 2017 #17-016

Seattle – An unregistered contractor who accepted homeowners' down payments to install windows, then didn't buy a single window for them, has been sentenced to eight days behind bars.

Bradley John Tiehen, 43, also must serve two days of public service and repay three of his victims a total of $18,715. Pro Tem Judge Catherine McDowall imposed the sentence Thursday in King County District Court.

The judge suspended an additional 354 days of jail for two years on several conditions, including that Tiehen repay the victims under terms set by the court, and not work as a contractor unless he registers with the state.

The Edmonds man had pleaded guilty to two gross misdemeanor counts of unregistered contracting. In exchange for his pleas, one count of unregistered contracting in Snohomish County will be dismissed, along with an additional King County charge that's already been dismissed.

The King County Prosecutor and Snohomish County Prosecutor charged the case based on a construction compliance investigation by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries.

Homeowners took out loans for windows they never got

In his guilty plea in February, Tiehen admitted to advertising and offering to perform work as a contractor from November 2014 to January 2015, even though he was not registered as a contractor, as required by state law. Tiehen was doing business as Guardian Home Solution, based in Edmonds.

According to the investigation and charging documents, Tiehen took thousands of dollars in deposits from three homeowners in King and Snohomish counties to replace windows in their homes. In each case, Tiehen asked for a 50 percent deposit that he claimed he would use to buy the windows.

A Stanwood homeowner lost nearly $12,000 to Tiehen. A Seattle homeowner, who paid Tiehen more than $1,800, and a Bellevue homeowner, who paid $5,000, both took out loans for the windows — which they must repay.

Hawaiian vacation

Once they paid the deposits, the homeowners had trouble reaching Tiehen, who gave various excuses when they finally connected, charging papers said. He told the Bellevue consumer that the window manufacturer got the order wrong, and insisted to the Stanwood homeowner that the new windows were locked up in a contractor's shop.

The consumers and an L&I inspector later found that Tiehen never ordered the windows.

Charging papers noted that five days after receiving the Bellevue consumer's $5,000 deposit, Tiehen left for a Hawaiian vacation on Dec. 16, 2014. The next day, a window subcontractor whom Tiehen hired to install windows texted Tiehen, saying he realized he was in Hawaii, but asked when his company would get paid. Tiehen texted back: "I brought checks. LOL".

Eventually, Tiehen told the subcontractor and L&I inspector that business slowed down and he had to close.

Protect yourself — hire registered contractors

The Stanwood homeowner met Tiehen at a home show in Everett, while the other homeowners found Tiehen's business through "deal-of-the-day" discount websites.

"Anyone can get scammed, and we don't want that to happen to you," said Annette Taylor, deputy assistant director of L&I's Fraud Prevention & Labor Standards.

"Just because contractors exhibit at home shows or advertise on coupon websites doesn't mean they're legitimate. That's why we always recommend checking whether contractors are registered with L&I."

Before registering contractors, L&I confirms applicants have a business license, liability insurance and a bond to provide some recourse for consumers if problems arise.

Consumers can verify contractor registration on L&I's Protect My Home website (www.protectmyhome.net).

"Hiring a registered contractor gives you the best chance for a successful home repair or upgrade," Taylor said.

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For media information: Debby Abe, L&I Public Affairs, debby.abe@Lni.wa.gov, (360) 902-6043.

Connect with L&I: Facebook (facebook.com/laborandindustries) and Twitter (twitter.com/lniwa)

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