LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Clients claim an Arkansas contractor has taken their money without doing the work, and now that same man is being sued by the state.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed suit Tuesday in Pulaski County Circuit Court against Stephen Rast and Taylor Wells claiming violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Rast, the subject of a pair of Working4You investigations, owns J & R Restoration and Landscaping and R & B Design and Landscaping. Wells is Rast’s wife.
In an earlier interview with KARK 4 News, Rutledge said her office had been working on a suit against Rast and that she would take him “to court and to take him down.”
The suit claims Rast is an unlicensed contractor but would often tell customers he was licensed. It goes on to allege that Rast would require down payments for jobs, then not finish or in many cases even start work on the project.
The attorney general’s office reported 22 consumers filing complaints against Rast since 2020, claiming they had paid deposits ranging from $275 to more than $10,000. In total, the AG’s office said consumers had losses totaling $88,542.38.
Among the complaints the AG received was one from a homeowner who claimed he paid Rast to install flooring in four rooms of his home only to see Rast work on part of one floor in one room before giving multiple excuses as to why he could not complete the project.
In another instance, a customer said they hired Rast to build a shop, which required a concrete slab to be poured. Rast hired a sub-contractor to pour the concrete but only paid half of what was owed. The customer said Rast continued to give excuses as to why the job could not be finished, adding that they had to pay the remaining bill for the concrete but leaving them with just a slab of cement and no shop.
In these and other examples, the attorney general claims Rast and Wells showed a consistent pattern: bid on a job, demand a deposit payment upfront, delay in ordering supplies, delay in beginning any work, leave work unfinished and never offer refunds.
“Stephen Rast is the epitome of a con artist, someone who comes in, promises to do all this sort of work, asks you to give 50% down and then leave you with nothing,” Rutledge told KARK 4 News in November.
The lawsuit notes the state is looking to get restitution for the customers who filed complaints with the state as well as $10,000 fines for each violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.