Elusive home improvement contractor out of jail, ordered to pay over $10,000

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Home improvement contractor Mark Johnson is free Thursday night after five months in the Henrico County jail. Johnson pled guilty to one felony bad check charge. A second bad check charge was dismissed, earlier this year.

12 On Your Side began investigating customer complaints against Johnson last year. Johnson was even featured on the Fugitive Friday page - and we stayed on his case, until he was finally arrested in October.

Johnson walked out of criminal court a free man with a lot of debt over his head, and if he doesn't repay it, in the time frame the judge says he should, he could go to prison for several years.

The felon was in and out of Henrico criminal court in fifteen minutes. He got five years suspended and a court order to pay Thermal Industries $10,183. That company's former operations manager said he delivered windows to Johnson and got a check that bounced
in return.

Johnson faces five years in jail if doesn't make restitution by April 1 of next year. His attorney, Devika Davis, says his plea was a late decision and Johnson felt it was in his best interest.

Davis didn't comment on camera Thursday but in the past has said Johnson was a successful business man, he never intended to defraud anyone and he had a failing  business.

Originally, Johnson was charged with three failure to perform construction in return for advances and two bad check charges. He repaid three people who accused him of taking their money and not performing the work before court last year.

"He knew the system well enough by sending me my money back, that he didn't have to appear," said Douglas Cook, an unhappy customer. "He's a disgrace to the business industry."

A second bad check charge was dismissed.

Some unhappy customers who called NBC12 also complained to the Virginia Board of Contractors, which investigated four complaints.

Johnson's license for 'Clear Choice Richmond - Inc'  is now revoked and the board hit him with $8,300 in fines, which the board says he hasn't paid. Johnson was non-responsive and never showed up for investigators, says the Board of Contractors.

The Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation is reminding people to check with them to find out if the contractor is licensed and never let your payments get ahead of the work.

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