ALBANY, GA (WALB) - An Albany construction contractor and company owner was indicted by the Dougherty County grand jury this week, charged with taking $50,000 from an Albany family and not doing the construction work promised.
With thousands of Albany homes damaged and still needing rehab work following three severe storms in the last two years, the district attorney says he will prosecute contractors who try to take advantage of storm victims at their “most helpless point.”
Fifty-six year old Jimmy Lee Jones was indicted on one count of conversion of payments for real property improvements by the Dougherty County Grand Jury.
In February 2017 Richard Jordan signed a contract with Jones to rebuild their family home in the 100 block of Force Drive, that had been destroyed by fire. That was the home of the late Reverend Richard Jordan, the long time pastor of the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church and well known civil rights advocate. Jones was a deacon and financial officer in that church, which is why the reverend’s son hired Jones.
“That was the principal reason. Because I knew him and had a pretty good relationship with him,” said Richard Jordan.
WALB was unable to reach Jones on Thursday, but Jordan says because of that relationship, he felt comfortable giving Jones $50,000 to start the construction. More than a year later, the house is still in disrepair, and Jones has been indicted.
“The allegations were that moneys that were supposed to be used for the rehabilitation for property were not used for that purpose. In fact, they were fraudulently, illegally spent,” said Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards.
With thousands of Albany homes damaged in recent storms, many contractors have come into the community for the jobs. Edwards says his office will prosecute wrongdoing.
“If there are cases where people are coming in trying to take money and run,” said Edwards, ”you know, we are going to do everything we can to prosecute them to the fullest.”
Jordan calls trying to get the house repaired “the worst experience of his life.” His 93-year-old mother is living with him, and does not know about the problems because he says it would kill her. He warns storm victims to not pay contractors before the work is done.
“Please have them be careful in choosing contractors to do the work,” said Jordan.
WALB reached out to Jimmy Jones on Thursday several times. His construction office phone has been disconnected. We left several messages on his cell phone, but he has not returned our calls.
The district attorney urges homeowners to check business licenses and check recommendations before hiring contractors.
There are lawyers from the Georgia Bars Association offering free legal help to storm victims, you can find out how to contact them here.