CHARLESTON – Attorney General Darrell McGraw has issued a warning to contractors who are working without a license and have defrauded West Virginia consumers.
McGraw's warning is that cheating consumers out of their money does not pay.
The attorney general's office has worked with the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department and the State Tax Department to secure the arrest of Gary Lomax, a contractor who was working without a business license or contractor's license.
Sgt. E. S. Drennen with the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department made the arrest after a traffic stop on the morning of Nov. 3. Drennen had filed felony charges against Lomax the previous day stemming from two consumers who reported fraud complaints to the attorney general's office.
"This should be a warning to unlawful contractors," McGraw said. "The state of West Virginia is not going to sit idly by and allow fraudsters to fleece our citizens of their hard earned money."
McGraw said his office will continue to work directly with criminal law enforcement, such as the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department, to bring scofflaws to justice.
Lomax is no stranger to the attorney general's Consumer Protection Division, which has received 33 complaints against him and his various companies.
McGraw referred several complaints to the West Virginia State Tax Department for investigation after it was discovered Lomax was operating without proper licensing.
In late 2009, the State Tax Department filed misdemeanor charges against Lomax for operating a business without a license.
In October 2010, Lomax was ordered to appear in Kanawha County Magistrate Court to face these misdemeanor charges, but did not appear. Kanawha County Magistrate Kim Aaron issued a capias warrant for his arrest.
In August, the attorney general's office received a consumer complaint from Charles Hill of St. Albans. Hill hired Lomax to replace the roof on his home, but after paying Lomax $1,500, he never returned to do the job.
In September, the attorney general's office received a consumer complaint from Franklin Ballard of Charleston. Ballard hired Lomax to install an outdoor heating and cooling unit. Lomax agreed to do the job for $1,300 and required Ballard to pay him $1,000 to purchase the unit. Lomax took the money, but never returned to do the work despite numerous phone calls from Ballard.
The felony charges against Lomax stem from these two consumer complaints.
Lomax has operated under various names such as Lomax Heating and Cooling; Lomax Heating and Air Conditioning; Gary Lomax Contracting; and most recently, Cross Lanes Heating and Cooling.
Lomax is facing a total of seven charges, including two felonies, due to his deceptive acts and practices and obtaining money under false pretenses. He is now incarcerated as a pre-trial felon at South Central Regional Jail.