BBB: Christopher Isaia, Awaiting Trial In Memphis, Brings Roofing Scheme To St. Louis

  
     
BBB is alerting consumers to activity in the St. Louis area by Christopher Isaia, a roofing contractor facing charges for a similar roofing scheme in Memphis.
March 25, 2014
 Deloris Riley
Deloris Riley, who paid Midwest Roofing $2,487 last fall for roofing work at her home in St. Louis.
Rusty Ceiling Fan
Rust has accumulated on a ceiling fan in Riley's home because of a leaky roof.
Christopher Isaia
Christopher Isaia, a roofer, also has used the alias Christopher Aprile.

St. Louis, Mo., March 25, 2014 – A roofing contractor jailed in 2012 in connection with a widespread construction fraud case in Memphis, Tenn., came to St. Louis within weeks of posting bond and began what appears to be a similar scheme here, Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns.

BBB advises extreme caution when dealing with Christopher A. Isaia or his company, Midwest Roofing Professionals. Midwest Roofing Professionals also is known as Midwest Roofing Professional. Isaia has used a number of aliases, including Christopher A. Aprile and Christopher A. Sowers.

During his stay in St. Louis, Isaia has taken thousands of dollars in insurance payments from consumers in St. Louis and St. Louis County, but failed to do the promised repair work. The homeowners include an 88-year-old man from Ferguson and a 69-year-old retired hospital worker from St. Louis.

“He gave me a sweet line,” said the former hospital worker, “and I believed him.”

The company has an “F” rating with BBB, the lowest possible.

Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, called Isaia’s activities “blatant and despicable. Mr. Isaia seems to have little or no regard for his customers or the law.” 

Isaia, 43, has been the focus of two consumer alerts by Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South, based in Memphis. In a June 2011 alert, BBB said homeowners alleged that a company tied to Isaia, Tennessee Roofing Professionals, took insurance money for roofing work that was never done. Two months later, BBB said the company had moved to Mississippi and had been renamed Tri-State Roofing.

Memphis BBB reports more than 70 complaints against Tennessee Roofing Professionals and Tri-State Roofing, with more than 60 of those unanswered.

Shortly after the second BBB alert, Isaia was arrested and charged with 16 counts of “actions by a home improvement services provider,” a state violation that includes criminal penalties and provisions for restitution to consumers. Officials in Shelby County, Tenn., arrested Isaia again in October 2012 on a warrant for violating conditions of his bail and being a flight risk. When he was again released on bail, he was required to wear an electronic tracking device on his ankle as a condition of his release.

A St. Louis woman said she rented an apartment in the 3100 block of California Avenue to Isaia in November 2012, less than one month after he posted bond on the criminal charges in Memphis. At the time he leased the apartment, Isaia told her that he was working for a contracting company in Springfield, Ill.

The owner of the contracting company confirmed that Isaia had worked for him as a salesman for several months in 2013. The owner said he lost track of Isaia after Isaia stopped working for him.

Missouri secretary of state records show that Isaia registered Midwest Roofing Professionals in February 2013. The registration was dissolved in September after Isaia failed to file an annual report.

The homeowner from Ferguson said he was approached at his home in March 2013 by a man who identified himself as Christopher A. Aprile, giving the homeowner a business card with that name. The homeowner said he paid the man $5,240 as a deposit for replacement of his storm-damaged roof.  The work has never been done, despite numerous phone calls to the business. Earlier this month, the Ferguson retiree identified photographs of Christopher Isaia as the man he knew as Christopher Aprile.

“He knows roofs, and he knows roofing,” the man said. “He seemed to have all the answers.”

The former hospital worker said she contacted Midwest after receiving a flyer from the company at her home on Lucas and Hunt Road in St. Louis. Again, the salesman who came to her home identified himself as Christopher Aprile and gave her a business card with that name. She said she paid the man and Midwest $2,487 in a cashier’s check in late October 2013 for roofing and other work, but nothing has been done. She has been unable to get a refund.

Water leaks have rusted a ceiling fan in her living room and caused other damage to her ceiling and walls. She, too, recently identified a photo of Isiaia as the man who took her money.

A couple from St. Louis said they paid the man they knew as Aprile $4,387 in October for roofing work on their home. The work was never done, and they have been unable to get a refund. The two became suspicious of the man shortly after making the payment and soon learned that he, in fact, was Isaia and that he had been jailed in Tennessee. They confronted him about his past, and he promised to return their money, but he ultimately disappeared.
 
“I feel like he is insidious and won’t stop,” said the man. “He has no intention of stopping.”

Isaia’s landlord and another woman who said she knew him when he lived at the California address said he sometimes talked of taking money from homeowners without doing work. The landlord said Isaia once showed her a $6,000 check for a roofing job and told her he “didn’t lift a finger” for the money.

BBB has been unable to contact Isaia for several weeks, and it is unclear whether he is still in the St. Louis area.

A spokesman for the Shelby County, Tenn., district attorney’s office said Isaia is free on $25,000 bond. The spokesman said the ankle bracelet was removed in February by order of a judge. He said Isaia’s trial on charges of property theft and operating a fraudulent home improvement service is set for July 14 in Memphis.

The BBB offers the following advice for consumers dealing with roofers or other contractors:

  • Beware of possible scams. Watch out for contractors in unmarked trucks or for companies requiring advance payment. Don’t succumb to high-pressure techniques, such as notices that the price is good for one day only.
  • Try to verify the business’s true identity. Get a business card and a physical location of the company.  It is always better to deal with well-established businesses.
  • Ask for references. Make sure the company that wants your business has satisfied other customers.
  • Make sure you get a written contract in advance of approving any work. Read it thoroughly and make sure you understand everything before signing it.
  • Be sure the contract includes a start date and a completion date for the work to be performed.
  • Do not be coerced into paying for work that you did not approve. If you feel pressured or if a contractor will not leave your home when asked, contact police.
  • Do not pay the full amount in advance of the work being completed.  Check a company’s BBB Business Review by going to www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.

Contacts (News Media Only): Michelle Corey, President & CEO, 314-645-0606, mcorey@stlouisbbb.org, or Chris Thetford, Vice President-Communications, 314-584-6743, communications@stlouisbbb.org, or Bill Smith, Trade Practice Investigator, 314-584-6727, tpc1@stlouisbbb.org

About BBB

BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. All BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses, 11,000 Charity Reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust.  Please visit www.bbb.org for more information.