Karns landowner finally gets money back from contractor who didn’t finish driveway


KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A contract signed four months ago to build a driveway for a Karns landowner ended up going bad, but the contractor never refunded his money. The job was never started, but once the sheriff’s department threatened legal action, the contractor handed over a check.

John Keller’s undeveloped property in West Knoxville is a little more than three acres which he wants to subdivide. Before he can do that the Metropolitan Planning Commission said he had to relocate the driveway leading to the property. Keller hired a contractor and gave him almost 50 percent upfront but the job never got started. Keller demanded his money back. The contractor initially refused, but that has changed.

Keller finally received the $2,500 down payment originally paid to his contractor last fall. In January, Eric Chesney. the man hired to build the driveway told WATE 6 On Your Side and Keller he would be unable to follow the specifications of the contract, saying the driveway was too steep. Two months ago, Keller said he was tired of waiting for his refund.Previous story: Karns landowner says contractor never started work on driveway

WATE 6 On Your Side called Chesney on January 14 and while he did not agree to an interview, he said in an email that he went to Keller’s home on the January 7 or 8 and returned $2,000 in cash. He said he was keeping $500 for the work he had done on the site and that he had made several trips to the property when Keller wasn’t there.

“He said he brought cash to my house which was not true. I had proof I wasn’t even in the state of Tennessee. A sheriff’s investigation concluded that,” said Keller.

Keller said last month he showed deputies that he was out of state on January 7 and 8. As proof, he presented this temporary Louisiana hunting license in his his name purchased on January 7. He went to Louisiana on the January 6 with his son he and didn’t return to Tennessee until January 9.

“This is the police report from the Knox County Sheriff’s office,” he said, adding that he was charging Chesney with theft. “They started an investigation on it back in February.”

Under a new law, prepared by State Rep. Bill Dunn five years ago and allows you to file criminal charges against a contractor if no work is done within 90 days. The law is a result of a series of stories on a local contractor by WATE 6 On Your Side six years ago.

Sheriff’s investigators then contacted Chesney and told him of the possible charges. He asked for time.

“Then they contacted me and asked if I would give him 10 more days. I said sure, I would be glad to do that,” said Keller.

In a series of text messages to Keller, Chesney apologized for the delay in paying the money saying he had been sick recently, but concluded the cashier’s check for $2,500 is on the way.

“[Chesney] was licensed. He was licensed as a realtor, but not as a contractor,” said Keller.

In a text message to WATE 6 On Your Side, Chesney says he did nothing wrong. With his $2,500 down payment back, Keller will now begin the process of finding a new contractor who has the skills and the proper licensing to build the driveway.

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