Contractor awarded license despite criminal history

PARK COUNTY, Colo. -- A Park County contractor was awarded a license despite a history of convictions and lawsuits involving theft from clients. Now, more residents are crying foul.

Donavon Johnson’s criminal history in Colorado dates to the 1990s. He is on probation related to a case of theft from El Paso County clients. Two Park County residents claim Donavon allegedly took their money without completing work.

Betty Cain owns and operates the Freshwater Bar and Grill in Guffey, and hired Johnson for a major expansion.

"The problem for most homeowners who hire a contractor that takes the money and runs, is that law enforcement usually calls it a civil matter and refuses to get involved," Cain said. "But Johnson actually has a felony conviction where his probation demands he do no more contracting work so 16-years later, why's he still doing it?”

Cain said she is out $2,000 after Johnson never delivered the drawings for phase one of the expansion.

"Our frustration is, we would not have gotten duped if he didn't have a license. You have to have a license to do our job. He should not have been licensed and he was.

"We promised people we would have a grocery store here. It's a much-needed thing."

Forget phase two of the project, which included blowing out the wall for a dance hall and stage.

“It's not about the money anymore. It's about stopping him. No more victims,” Cain said.

Park County resident Dena Vucetich also said Johnson did not do the work he was hired to do. Vucetich is an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan. She never thought adding a new roof plus front and back porches would be so stressful.

"He ran pretty quickly with my money," Vucetich said. "You can't even begin to imagine how mad it makes me."

Vucetich said she gave Johnson nearly $10,000 to do the work, but ended up paying someone else to finish the job.

"You can imagine my shock when I found out the contractor license he had in El Paso County was revoked because he was convicted of a felony," Vucetich said.

Sixteen years ago in Colorado Springs, there was a similar story.

"He was supposed to put a new addition onto top of our house," Nancy Weddle said.

Johnson pleaded guilty to theft of $15,000 in the Weddle case. But the justice system sentenced him to restitution of $10 month. At that rate, it won’t be paid back for 125 years.

"Well, after we are dead and gone. We won`t get paid back," Weddle said.

Johnson's probation paperwork from El Paso County said he is not supposed to do any contracting work and is not supposed to take any money up front from anyone.

Despite those stipulations, he filed for a license in Park County. The county application is a self-reporting document and asks the potential contractor: “Have you ever had a contractor license denied, suspended or revoked by any jurisdiction?”

Johnson left the box blank. Park County admits it failed to notice the omission, but did not revoke his license until the FOX31 Problem Solvers started asking questions.

"Our frustration is, we would not have gotten duped if he didn't have a license. You have to have a license to do our job. He should not have been licensed and he was," Cain said.

Johnson’s contracting insurance dropped him for nonpayment in June, before any work was to begin.

"He needs to be stopped now," Cain said.

She was shocked when Johnson said they owed him more money for design drawings he never delivered.

Johnson maintains he is innocent of the recent complaints.

"It was never lined out that I would do the work," John said. "I would get there when I could."

As for leaving the self-reporting box blank on his license application, Johnson said, “I probably missed it, consciously or subconsciously, to be honest, OK?

Taking money up front from customers violates his court orders.

"I made a mistake. We're not all perfect, OK?" Johnson said. "I made a mistake. But Dena's got all her money back."

Vucetich claimed she is still fighting the credit card company.

"That is why he keeps doing it," Weddle said. "He has not been held accountable.”

Added Cain: "He should have been in jail a long time ago. "

“He came out here in Guffey to hide," Vucetich said. "He didn't think he would get caught in this web of his, but he has."

The Problem Solvers have learned Johnson's legal history includes six felonies and two dozen lawsuits.

"I never set out to rip anybody off, never, never, never never," Johnson said.

Johnson returns to court on Oct. 4 in El Paso County for a probation revocation and a week later, he has a court appearance in Park County. Prosecutors there have charged him with two counts of obtaining signatures by deception.