SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – The Seminole County Sheriff's Office is investigating a local roofing company after an elderly woman said the company collected money from her insurance company in 2016, but never even pulled a permit to start the job.
Company officials said it is still investigating with the insurance company for more money for the repairs.
Lucille Kellom, 81, has enjoyed her Seminole County home for nearly four decades, but she said none of those years has been as stressful as the last year and a half.
"I worry, when I go to bed. I can't hardly sleep," she said. "Because I am worried about my roof."
In her bedroom, hallway and guest room, there are water stains on the ceiling.
"That's a new spot right there," she said, pointing to a corner in the ceiling of her master bedroom.
The roof problems didn't just start, but have gotten progressively worse. In October 2016, Kellom contacted Day Roofing Inc. in Altamonte Springs. She signed an Assignment of Benefits allowing the company to deal directly with her insurance company.
It's something consumer advocates, such as Holly Salmons with the Better Business Bureau, recommend you don't do.
"Because it gives away so much of your power," Salmons said.
In November 2016, State Farm issued Day Roofing Inc. a check for $11,429. The check was cashed, according to a claim statement, but a year and a half later, the roof is still in disrepair.
"What I would rather them to do is give me the money back and I'll get somebody else, because they're taking too long," Kellom said.
According to Kellom's contract, the total price for the roof was $11,987.
Minus the $11,000 already paid by State Farm, Kellom's balance is roughly $558, according to the contract that was signed by Kellom and Yenifer Panizo-Reyes, who is the president of Day Roofing Inc.
Kellom said the company put up a tarp, but when more storms hit in 2017, it was the start of water inside the home, according to Kellom's son, Robert.
"Sometimes we have to put buckets here because the water is coming inside the home," Robert Kellom said of an area in a back living room.
News 6 legal analyst Steven Kramer said it's a scenario seen often around Central Florida.
"It looks like it is a situation where you've got a contractor taking advantage of a homeowner," he said.
According to public records, Yenifer Panizo-Reyes is the company president. When News 6 first contacted her, she set up an interview for a week later and said "she could explain everything." On the day of the interview, she said she didn't want to go on the record at the advice of her attorney. That was April 4.
News 6 called multiple times and went by the office to get a response. On Wednesday afternoon, News 6 returned to the office and asked for the status of Kellom's roof.
"Actually, basically if you release the whole news, basically if you talk to State Farm that's who should give you any information," Panizo-Reyes said.
News 6 did speak with a representative from State Farm, who couldn't comment on Kellom's claim specifically because of client privacy rules, according to the statement. In general, "If a contractor did not agree with our evaluation of the claim, then we are always open to review," according to the statement.
News 6 was asked to leave Day Roofing Inc., but previously we were told the company is still negotiating with State Farm and waiting for more money because the $11,000 was not enough to repair the roof, according to Panizo-Reyes.
"It becomes more difficult to say you're still negotiating when the money is sitting in your bank account," Kramer said.
"They said they were here to help me, but it seems like to they're harming me," Kellom said.
News 6 learned Day Roofing Inc. never even pulled a permit to start the roofing work at Kellom's home, according to the county's building department. The Seminole County Sheriff's Office confirmed it is now investigating to see if criminal charges are in order.
If you know anyone in the same situation, file a complaint with the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and call your local law enforcement office.