Local families left behind after hired contractor suddenly files for bankruptcy

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Several local families are on the verge of losing thousands of dollars to a single contractor.

Shane Solomon, Hugh Lyon and Evan Wahlman paid Thomas Weems and his company, Elite Custom Homes and Construction in Puyallup, to renovate their homes.

Now, Weems and his company are filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy — a full asset liquidation — potentially leaving his clients nearly $1 million short after doing little or no work on their homes.

“I mean, he definitely shouldn’t be able to walk away,” Wahlman said.

Yet Weems apparently did just that and started a brand new construction company, Warrior Construction Services.

“I don’t know how he got that license after what he’s been going through, trying to file for bankruptcy,” Lyon said. “That does not make any sense.”

That seems to be the case, especially after Weem posted a trip to Miami on Facebook. He says there that he dined in fancy restaurants where the steaks cost up to a thousand dollars.

He got bottle service at the Clevelander Hotel — ranging from $225 to $800 each.

He played golf in Doral – it’s almost $400 a game.

He talked about it on May 30. On June 1, Weems decided to shut down Elite Custom Homes and Construction — just two days after telling everyone about his Miami adventure.

A few weeks later, he continued to eat well in Puget Sound in El Gaucho.

Three days later, he filed for bankruptcy.

“I think he’s incredibly irresponsible financially,” Solomon said.

Today, at least five former clients are filing lawsuits in federal court challenging his bankruptcy. In court documents, Solomon says he paid $103,000 and Weems provided no service and did no work.

KIRO 7 called and texted Weems – he told us to talk to his attorney. When the lawyer didn’t answer, we stopped at Weems’ house to look for answers. He did not answer or respond.

Randy Littlefield leads the Bankruptcy Unit at Labor and Industries. He said if a contractor has no L&I violations, has paid their employees’ bills, and has no court judgments, the agency cannot stop them from getting a license.

And court cases filed declaring bankruptcy don’t count.

Weems’ new and old companies are supposed to be separate, but on his new company Warrior’s website, some parts are clearly from his old company, Elite.

As a result of our investigation, Rep. Tina Orwall of Des Moines said she would draft legislation to better protect consumers in the event of bankruptcy and weak contractor bonds.

In this case, all former customers would have to share the $12,000 deposit.

“It’s going to be a big lift. We are going to be pushed back,” Orwall said. “But I think at the end of the day we don’t have a balance in our system. The protections are simply not there.

“I think it’s more than a bad deal. It’s a bad deal and then more.

As for those who have done business with Weems, the pain goes far beyond the wallet.

“It’s crazy. And it hurts,” Lyon said. “It’s going to hurt more people.”

“I don’t care if he has to pay me a dollar out of every paycheck for the next hundred years like I will, I’ll exhaust all my efforts,” Solomon said.

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