Home repairs remain unfinished 2.5 years, $6,000 later

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Charlotte Washington's Bemis Avenue home holds a lot of history for her family. She says her father bought it at a time when African-Americans couldn't buy homes in certain neighborhoods in Grand Rapids.

"[Grandfather] worked as a baker, and he was an entrepreneur, and he had to give the money to someone else who was of a different color to buy the home for him and my grandmother," said Beverly Day, Washington's daughter.

The home is a family heirloom. So when Washington, 81, decided to make fixes on the property in October 2015, she tells us she called up a friend, contractor Jerome "Jerry" Sorrells. They wrote up an agreement, and she paid him $6,000 to do various repairs.

But two-and-a-half years later, the family showed the Problem Solvers a home that's in shambles. Sorrells allegedly did minimal work and left lots of damage, including holes in the walls and exposed wires. He even left some of his equipment behind.

"He said he wanted more money," Washington said. "He wanted some more money because he needed more money to do the repairs."

Day said she called Sorrells. "I said, 'Sir, what did you do with the $6,000?'"

"She put her car up for a loan to get this done, and he just took such advantage of her," Day said tearfully.

Day flew to Grand Rapids from Texas just to speak with the Problem Solvers. She provided us with documentation of all her mother's efforts to get this resolved, including an assessment from an inspector in 2015 who looked into the mess Washington says Sorrells left behind.

Meanwhile, the city condemned the property, the family said. And they say Sorrells' wife demanded Washington pay him even more money despite the fact that he allegedly broke the contract.

Day reached out to the FOX 17 Problem Solvers for help after seeing our stories on former attorney Matthew Herman online. The Problem Solvers got Herman to refund another woman who he allegedly neglected to do work for. Ironically, Washington said she also paid the former attorney to help her recover funds from Sorrells. But Herman allegedly never filed court documents.

"I've been trying to reach [Herman]. I have not been able to reach him all," Washington said.

 

"You guys just look like the only help that my mom can have," Day said to FOX 17. "I reached out because this is my last hope."

So the Problem Solvers called Sorrells. On the phone, he said, "My memory is shot now. So a whole lot of things I don't remember."

The 80-year-old said he didn't know who Washington was. He then put his daughter, April, on the phone.

She hung up after I identified myself and the station.

But we spoke with her later. She explained that her father is elderly and his business is now closed.

 

But Mr. Sorrells called the Problem Solvers with a different tune. "I did make the commitment, and I'm aware of that," he said.

Sorrells said he plans to get that work done within the next two months.

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