Castro Valley-based Vanderbuilt Construction filed for bankruptcy last month. ABC7 has been calling the lawyers who represented the owner for two days and have not heard back from them. However, ABC7 has heard a lot from angry homeowners who say they're now left with unfinished work, and no way to pay for it.
The owners of a San Anselmo home tell ABC7 News that their insurance company, USAA, recommended Vanderbuilt Construction after a fire about a year ago. But Vanderbuilt didn't finish the work, and when the homeowner called USAA to tell them, Vanderbuilt owner Mike Boshard had just filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Then they discovered the insurance checks had been cashed at Fremont Bank and they claim it was done with a forged signature.
Homeowners with un-finished repair work now have no way to recover insurance money deposited and spent by Broshard because he's protected by the bankruptcy.
"He's protected civilly. If he has forged the signatures of some of these, as you've indicated, that is forgery and he has stolen money. I don't know whether the district attorney will do something about it, but they will look into it," said San Francisco real estate attorney Roger Meredith.
Homeowner Paul Chang says Vanderbuilt cashed $72,000 worth of insurance checks at Fremont Bank without the required endorsement of the mortgage bank, Wells Fargo. Another homeowner's says Vanderbuilt did the same thing with her check for more than $259,000. There's still about $60,000 worth of work left on Chang's roof. In the meantime, they and their four girls are living with friends. At the bankruptcy hearing last week, Chang asked Broshard how he could cash the checks without all the signatures.
"He claimed power of attorney in the contract. But according to the contract, they have a limited power of attorney to cash in checks for work already done and they certainly don't have power of attorney over Wells Fargo," said Chang.
"Well he doesn't have power of attorney for the mortgage company. I will assure you he doesn't have power of attorney," said Meredith.
Meredith says the homeowners should be able to recover money from Fremont Bank.
"If the homeowner's signature is there, legitimately or not, but not the mortgage companies, the bank should be held liable because they did not pick up the required two signatures," said Meredith.
The Contractors State License Board says requesting or receiving a down payment more than 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, is illegal. Fines are as high as $5,000 and could be a misdemeanor with up to $5,000 in fines and/or up to a year in jail.
We asked Fremont Bank about its practices for checks requiring multiple signatures. It responded with a statement saying privacy regulations prohibit disclosure of that information. The homeowners might have been able to get at least some money back through Boshard's required licensing board bond, but because he didn't pay it, the board says it was cancelled on July 14th, two days after the bankruptcy hearing.