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State Investigators Clear Local Contractor Accused of Fraud

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WINTERSET, Iowa -- Following a strong storm in central Iowa last summer, many homeowners looked to local contractors to make repairs. Now, state insurance investigators have cleared one local roofing company accused of fraud.

Homeowner Mary Gregory told Channel 13 that she wanted her home in Winterset repaired after a summer storm damaged her roof last July.

“[The hailstorm] blew in and broke some of the screens, dented up the siding on the north and east side, and the west side also. Because it was a storm that had swirled quite a bit, it took several shingles off the roofing of the house,” said Gregory.

After the storm damaged her home, Gregory said she called Jim Nelle, the owner of Roof One Exteriors of Winterset.

“I told him what we wanted done. He met with my insurance. The insurance agent was here and he came in,” she said.

Gregory told Channel 13 that Nelle filled in the costs and never showed her. Channel 13’s Mike DaSilva asked Gregory about that: “When those numbers came in, he filled them in and on that contract, and did he do it with you there?” Gregory, replied, “No.”

But, Roof One owner Jim Nelle told Channel 13 he filled in those numbers in front of Gregory using the figures given to him by Gregory’s own insurance company, after Nelle spent time inspecting the roof and working with her insurance adjuster to make sure Gregory received full coverage for all the damage caused by the storm.

Gregory disputes that.

“What he filled in was the first two sheets. I had the third sheet that I’d kept for my records that were blank,” said Gregory.

Gregory said after she sent away roofing materials that started arriving at her home unexpectedly one day, she received a letter from a Roof One attorney saying she owed Roof One money.

“I signed the request for an estimate,” Gregory said.

The contract Gregory signed was not just an estimate, it obligated her to have Roof One Exteriors do the work approved by her insurance company and accepted by Roof One. And because Gregory decided to use a different contractor, the contract provides she must pay 25 percent of the total cost, to reimburse Nelle for all his time working on her claim: The amount our report in September said Roof One was pursuing from Gregory, the amount Gregory disputed she owed.

“I should never have signed that contract and I’m hoping that people learn from my mistakes,” said Gregory.

At the end of April, Chance McElhaney, Communications Director for the Iowa Insurance Division said that the “Insurance Division’s Fraud Bureau reviewed the available evidence in the case and did not discover evidence warranting criminal charges for insurance fraud.” He said,  “Our Fraud Bureau recently referred the case to the Consumer Protection Division of the Iowa Attorney General’s office for review.”

The Attorney General’s Office is taking a look at the case, but it said Gregory has not filed an official complaint.

Following our report last September, the Better Business Bureau changed Roof One's rating from A- to "updating."

Within three months, the BBB reinstated the original A- rating for Roof One. But after consulting with the Iowa Attorney General’s Office on Monday, the BBB again changed the status to updating.

Channel 13 regrets any misunderstandings that resulted from its previous coverage of this dispute.