BLACK FOREST, Colo. (KKTV) - A Black Forest contractor who took money from customers pleaded guilty to theft Wednesday.
For months, 11 Call For Action heard from several angry homeowners who all hired Western Barn. All wanted the same thing — a pole barn for their county properties.
Viewers told 11 News' former Call for Action investigator, Betty Sexton, they found the company online. After contacting the company, a salesman came out and took measurements, even going as far as driving a few of them out to look at previous barns they'd constructed in El Paso County.
Each person who contacted 11 News signed contracts and gave thousands of dollars in down payments to get started. They say they were told they'd have to wait at least four to six weeks, or maybe a little longer depending on the weather.
However, after several months passed, they became angry and demanded their money back.
Kevin Allison is one of those angry customers. He filed and won a lawsuit.
"I gave him $28,000 back in March 2015," Allison said.
But not an ounce of work was done.
"He just got $8,200 of my money in his bank account."
And he's not alone.
"We paid him on the 23rd. They cashed the check the very same day, probably an hour within us meeting them," said Gina.
"As a former high school teacher, I've heard all the excuses and I kind of know excuses when I hear them. And I just kept getting one excuse after the other," Roger said.
Victoria Ellis has the same story.
"Here we are eight months later and we have nothing. No materials, nothing from him."
The company owes Ellis $13,100.
Andy Vanruler also filed a lawsuit against Western Barn asking for his $17,000 back.
"When I signed the contract all the material was supposed to be there, and we was supposed to start building it. And it was just one excuse after another that we kept getting from him," he said.
When an 11 Call For Action volunteer called Western Barn in December, he was told the owner, Daryl "Bruce" Jurgens, was in the hospital and the company was backed up at least four weeks.
Just a few weeks ago, federal court records showed Jurgens and his wife, Brigit, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Jurgens was also arrested and is now charged with felony theft based on three customer complaints.
In court, the attorney asked for more time so Jurgens could come up with money to pay for his services. The judge agreed and told him to return next month.
While customers wait in limbo, it's something we can all learn from. Be careful giving large down payments. Many reputable contractors don't ask for any money upfront.
Though some customers have successfully sued Western Barn and won, they haven't gotten payments on time, if any at all.
On Wednesday, Jurgens pleaded guilty to theft of $20,000 to $100,000, which is a class four felony. He is expected to be sentenced March 14.
If you had problems with Western Barn, you're asked to contact your local police or sheriff's office.