Suburban men accused of home repair fraud

The state is going after home repair businesses that cheated suburban homeowners out of more than $600,000, the Attorney General’s Office said.

The lawsuits filed in Cook County circuit court are against alleged storm chaser Ricky Shattuck, of Mundelein, who solicited home repair service as RLCC, officials said, as well as James D. Johnsen, operating as Thermal Construction, based in Des Plaines.

The Illinois Attorney Generals Office also filed suit against Janeen Heilman, Erick Zerse and Chris Bidigare, operating as Fairway Construction and Maintenance Services LLC in Oak Park, and Rock Construction Management LLC in Westchester.

Madigan filed the lawsuits in Cook County circuit court on behalf of consumers in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and Will counties.

“The losses suffered by the dozens of consumers in these cases are staggering,” Attorney General Lisa Madigan said in a news release. “We will be aggressive in our enforcement efforts, but I also urge homeowners to use great caution when hiring a contractor. Ask for references, and contact my office to check if complaints have been filed. Never feel pressured to sign agreements on the spot and always request estimates in writing.”

Madigan said Shattuck targeted homeowners for solicitation in the wake of severe weather in Lake County in July, offering repair service to fix damage caused by storms that he never completed.

Consumers living in Cook, Kane and Lake counties reported losses of more than $8,900 to Madigan’s office and the Better Business Bureau, officials said.

Some consumers said Shattuck required them to sign over their storm-damage insurance checks as upfront payments for the work.

Madigan is alleging in a separate lawsuit against Johnsen that he cheated homeowners living in Cook, DuPage and Lake counties out of more than $148,000 for repair work he never completed.

Officials said 54 consumers reported to Madigan’s office, the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List that Johnsen failed to complete repairs, despite requiring them to pay an upfront payment for half of the contracted work.

The lawsuit against the other two state consumers living in Cook and Will counties reported losses of more than $511,000 for work that was never completed. They reported to Madigan’s office and the BBB that the defendants accepted upfront sums from $1,050 to more than $174,000.

Madigan’s lawsuits are asking the court to permanently prohibit the defendants from working in the home repair trade in Illinois, cancel any pending contracts with homeowners and obtain restitution for affected consumers.

The lawsuits also seek to impose on the defendants an array of civil penalties for the allegations laid out in each of the complaints.