Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has issued a Cease and Desist Order against a group of individuals who have been using the guise of a contractor’s license to perpetrate scams against unsuspecting homeowners across the state. Gorman General Contracting and Sean Patrick Gorman, Bartley Gorman, Jr., Robert Gorman, Patrick Michael Gorman, Joseph Jude Gorman, John Gorman, Ann Gorman, John Costello, John Lovell, William Riley and Peter TooGood, have all been named in the Cease & Desist for violating the state’s consumer fraud, transient merchant, and contractor laws.
The Consumer protection division has been working with local law enforcement, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and Ladd Erickson, McLean county state’s attorney, in investigating the individuals associated with the group, many of whom appear to use multiple different names in their scams. According to federal authorities, these individuals are part of a larger out-of-state crime ring, known as “Travelers” or “Irish Travelers.” In North Dakota, they appear to have concentrated their activities on rural areas within oil-producing counties.
Investigators determined that the various individuals engaged in a pattern of criminal behavior, including using deception to obtain payments from consumers, such as: showing up at an elderly individual’s rural home unannounced, performing work without permission, and then using intimidation to force the victim to pay for the shoddy work; starting a job and then demanding payment of thousands more to finish the work. In one instance, after demanding the victim pay an extra $32,000, they then threatened to take the older woman’s vehicle and camper instead, forcing her to flee through a window for help.
“This is not a simple fly by night operation; this is an organized crime ring. These “travelers” are nothing more than a gang of thugs who go from state to state under the guise of a contractor’s license, using intimidation and threats to take money from their unsuspecting victims before moving on to the next location,” said Stenehjem
A number of criminal charges have been filed in McLean county for the gang’s activities in that county. From information already uncovered, BCI investigators believe there are additional victims in other oil-producing counties.
“If you have had work done by any of these people, or have been threatened or felt intimidated into agreeing to let them do work or pay them money, please contact my office,” Stenehjem urged. The toll-free number for the Consumer Protection Division’s hotline is 1-800-472-2600.
Parrell Grossman, director of the consumer protection division, reminded homeowners to get a written estimate that details the scope of the work before agreeing to pay money to a contractor. “If someone starts a job without your authorization and then demands money, call your local law enforcement agency immediately and report them,” said Grossman.