The president and chief operating officer of a Des Plaines construction company spent more than $320,000 of client money on limousine rides and trips to Europe before work was complete or even started, according to a lawsuit filed Friday by the Illinois attorney general's office.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed the lawsuit in Cook County court against Katlia Construction Inc., 2720 S. River Road, Des Plaines. Madigan has accused the company's president, Vince LaRocca, and its chief operating officer, Mark Paulson, of violating the state's Consumer Fraud and Home Repair Acts by failing to begin or complete work after being paid by customers.
Rather than performing the home repairs within agreed upon time frames, LaRocca and Paulson put clients' money toward "extravagant personal use," including trips to Europe and Las Vegas, limousine rides, and clothing and jewelry, according to a news release.
"Home repair fraud remains one of the top complaints reported to my office," Madigan said. "I encourage people looking for a contractor or repair service to call my office and the Better Business Bureau to ask about a company's record before hiring them."
Representatives from Katlia Construction Inc. could not be reached for comment. Two phone numbers listed as contacts for the company are out of service, and the business' website, Katlia.com, has been suspended.
According to the lawsuit, LaRocca and Paulson explained to customers that the delays in completing work were caused by pending approvals of building permits they had never applied for.
The lawsuit also accuses LaRocca and Paulson of failing to return customers' down payments and often failing to advise customers of their right to cancel services within a three-day window, as required by law.
There have been 21 complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau against Katlia Construction Inc., according to the bureau's website. In the complaints, clients have said they signed an agreement and paid a deposit, but the company failed to schedule or never began work in their homes. To date, the Better Business Bureau has not heard back from the company regarding the accusations, according to the website.
A representative from the attorney general's office was not immediately available Saturday to comment.