Couple says landscaper took thousands for work he never finished

By Mackenzie Patterson - bioemail

CATAULA, GA (WTVM) - Imagine hiring a landscaper, paying him thousands of dollars, but he never came to do the work.  That is just what a Harris County couple says happened to them.

Every time Jose Torres looks out his kitchen window, he says he is reminded of a long, upsetting ordeal.  He wanted to fix up the backyard for his wife Cathy.  So, 2 years ago, he found a landscaping business that seemed promising.

"They were insured and they were licensed to do this kind of work, and their ad was more impressive than the rest of them," said Torres.

Torres said he agreed for Charles Humphries to do some grading, lay some gravel, and then lay bricks.  Torres said Humphries and a crew did a little cleaning up and grading, but Harris County investigators say after that work, the Torres couple never saw Humphries or the more than $8000 they paid him for supplies ever again.

"I gave him a choice: either give me my money back or I would try to get him prosecuted," said Torres.

For 2 years, Torres with the help of a lawyer tried to do just that by attempting to settle a civil case with Humphries in court, but they could never track down the landscaper.  Finally, this week, the Harris County Sheriff's Department stepped in and arrested Humphries, just 2 days into the criminal investigation.

"I was so elated.  I haven't been able to sleep since," said Torres.

Torres was able to get his yard in Harris County finished but had to buy supplies himself and enlist the help of his son, grandson, and two other landscapers.  He is finally able to relax in his backyard after what he calls an emotionally draining experience.

We were unable to contact Humphries.  He is still being held in the Harris County Jail on felony charges of theft by conversion and exploiting the elderly.

Investigators say Mr. and Mrs. Torres may not be the only victims in Humphries' alleged scam.

Deputies say no bond has been set for Humphries at this time.

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