Osceola family seeks restitution after contractor takes money

NOW: Osceola family seeks restitution after contractor takes money

Paul Franklin and Tameka Pittman moved into a home in Osceola with their two kids back in 2008.  It was the perfect place to raise their family.

On November 5, 2019, everything changed.

Paul had left with their daughter to go to the store.

Tameka was home alone with their quadriplegic son.

She was letting the dogs out when an electrical fire started in the house.

“I remember putting my arms under him, under his arms, and I don’t remember how I got him out or lifted him up or anything, but I got him out the house,” said Tameka.

The family was placed into a hotel while they started the rebuilding process with the insurance company.

Farmers Insurance issued a check to Midland Mortgage for $165,402.82.

The amount seemed low to Paul and Tameka, given what they lost.

Paul and Tameka decided that they needed help.

They hired Shawn Blank, owner of Paladin Insurance Advocates.

His job was to help negotiate the claim with the insurance company.

“I’m an advocate for the insured.”

“I do the estimates, the estimates on the structure, on the contents, on this particular job I help find the house they were staying in,” Shawn said.

Shawn conducted his own inspection of the property.

He believes that the house was unsalvageable and the insurance company should be giving more money towards the rebuild.

The amount of money remained the same.

“This house was burnt beyond living in, there was no reconstruction process that could have ever rebuilt the home which was there,” Shawn said.

Shawn also recommended a few different contractors.

Tameka and Paul selected one, and the demolition finally began a year after the fire.

The mortgage company paid for the demolition work, but then the contractor backed out of building their home.

So, Tameka went back to the list of builders that Shawn had given her and selected John Bray of Under One Roof Construction.

“We were doing a job down in Kokomo. I ran into this guy, seemed like he was doing a pretty good job, and he was recommended from a person down there,” said Shawn.

“We worked with John Bray for months, for a while. We got all the way until the permit, and he gave all of the credentials to the mortgage company. He needed it to rebuild our home, he got everything he needed. Our Mortgage company sent us out a check for $55,000, which he requested for him to get started,” Tameka said.

On June 24, 2021 John Bray Sr., John’s father came to pick up the check. It was cashed the next day.

“He just ghosted us,” Paul said.

“He has not answered his phone at all. I emailed him, texted him, wrote on his business page,” said Tameka.

I checked into the Bray’s business records on the Indiana Secretary of State website and noticed a pattern.

Under One Roof Restoration and Construction LLC was dissolved back on March 5, 2022.

John Bray Jr. had another business, JB&C service from 2015 to 2018 that dissolved on March 5, 2018.

The same day, four years earlier.

Now there's a new business, Bray and Son LLC, which is in the name of John Bray Sr., located in Kokomo, Indiana.

I decided to take the drive and talk to the Bray’s myself, to try and get some answers.

John Jr. was the first stop.

There was no one at the registered business address for the now dissolved “Under One Roof Construction,” which looked to be John's home.

I spoke with one neighbor who thought John worked at the pet store.

Next stop was John's father.

I wanted to ask him about picking up the check from Paul and Tameka.

The woman who answered the door was John Sr.’s sister.

She did not want to be recorded but told me that her brother and nephew didn’t own a construction business.

Before I headed back to South Bend, I went back to try and speak with John Bray Jr.

He pulled up as we arrived.

“I am Kevin Warmhold with ABC57 News. The reason why I am here is Paul and Tamika. Are you Under One Roof Construction?”

“Can you tell your side of the story?” I asked.

“I am not talking to you,” said John.

“You don’t want to talk to us.  Do you want to tell your side of the story?” I asked.

We gave John an opportunity to explain himself, which he declined to comment.

At this point, Paul and Tameka don’t know if they’ll ever get their money back they gave Under One Roof Construction to rebuild their home.

I later met up with Tameka and helped her file the paperwork, making an official complaint to the Office of the Attorney General for the state of Indiana. 

The hope is that an investigation will be launched into the contractor John Bray and his company.

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