FIRESTONE, Colo. (CBS4) – Firestone police are searching for a man they say scammed a blind Air Force veteran and retired Longmont firefighter out of several thousand dollars.
Last December, Vern and Joyce Sorensen hired contractor David Garcia after he was recommended by remodeling company Home Wise to build a bedroom and bathroom in Sorensen’s home.
According to a contract – written by Garcia – Vern Sorensen would purchase about $3,000 worth of material and Garcia would complete the project for roughly $17,000.
“He seemed friendly and upfront,” Vern told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann. “He knew I couldn’t see, so he would read me the contract as he wrote it. I trusted him.”
After receiving a few thousand dollars as a down payment, Garcia began the job just before Christmas and took a break around the holiday, Vern explained.
Then Garcia claimed he needed more cash for materials, an electrician, a plumber and other necessities, so Vern gave him the money – eventually totaling more than $20,000.
“By February he said he was done and that I would have to get my own electrician and plumber because his weren’t licensed,” Vern said.
An independent contractor came by the Sorensen’s home to review what little work had been done. He concluded what Garcia did was really only a couple hundred dollars’ worth of work and was not properly done.
“By May I couldn’t even get him to answer the phone number I had for [Garcia],” Vern said.
Joyce said she was suspicious of Garcia from the beginning. She didn’t say anything because she trusted her husband.
“I think that’s why [Garcia] worked mainly with Vern,” Joyce said.
Vern and Joyce said they were easy targets not because they are a trusting couple, but because Vern is legally blind.
“I trusted him so I gave him our money,” Vern said tearfully. “That hurts. I let my son down because he’s been helping us out. That whole project was for him. I let [Joyce] down because I overrode her qualms about giving money upfront.”
The Sorensen’s reached out to Firestone police earlier this year. It took a couple months, but officers were eventually able to track Garcia down.
He told police he’d finish the job, but never showed up. Now Garcia is wanted for felony theft and theft against an at-risk person.
“He took it all,” Joyce said. “We don’t have anything left.”
“There’s no saving at all left,” Vern added.
Vern and Joyce know they’ll likely never see their money again, hitting the struggling couple hard.
Vern is having trouble finding a job and his wife cannot work due to a disability. Despite the hardships, they’re keeping faith police will find the man who took all they had left.
“We just want him caught,” Joyce said. “We want him to at least answer for what he’s done.”
A GoFundMe page has now been established for the couple.
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.