NewsProblem Solvers


Punishing fraudulent contractors

Posted at 9:10 PM, Feb 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-23 21:10:18-05

WEST MICHIGAN — Ken Bird and James Fouse are two familiar names in West Michigan, but for the wrong reasons.

The FOX 17 Problem Solvers have done a number of investigations on these two contractors. These men are accused of taking money from unsuspecting customers and failing to fulfill their end of the bargain on construction jobs.

Bird recently pleaded guilty to fraud for taking thousands upon thousands of dollars. Fouse has a lengthy criminal rap sheet.

In some cases, the contractor never shows up. Other times they don’t finish, or they do a shoddy job. So what does it take to successfully prosecute alleged frauds?

“The key thing for all these cases, and they’re all very different. They’re all very fact-specific,” Chris Becker, Kent County’s
chief assistant prosecutor, said.

Becker said it all comes down to intent.

“Is there an intention to defraud? Is there an intent to cheat somebody out?” he asked rhetorically.

The prosecutor said there’s a large gray area between what’s civil and criminal when it comes to a contractor not following through on a job.

Becker said, “It’s not clear cut as everybody would like to think.”

Watch the video for more.