BRYANT, Ark. – After weeks of searching, the Working4You investigators tracked down an Arkansas contractor accused of taking a deposit for work but never showing up to do it.
Debra Johnson hired Stephen Rast in July of 2021 to build a new retaining wall at her Bryant home. Johnson said she made Rast sign a contract under which he agreed to do the work for $3,000, with a $1,500 up-front deposit.
“He came by to pick up a check for one-half of the payment,” she explained. “He left and I could never get a date for him to come back out and do the work.”
Johnson said Rast started giving her reasons he could not get the job done a month later, in August of 2021, with excuses ranging from a shortage of employees to COVID-19.
“He couldn’t get his work together, his crew together, his truck working, had to go out-of-state for his father who supposedly had a heart attack in Texas,” she recalled.
Johnson said she is not able to get ahold of Rast, or her $1,500 deposit, so she called Working 4 You for help. To find him, the KARK 4 News investigators started searching court records. Working 4 You found several complaints dating back to 2020, even lawsuits, where Rast is accused of taking deposits but never doing the work.
Back in March, Sherwood Police issued a felony warrant for his arrest. A woman filed a police report alleging Rast needed 50% paid upfront to do a landscaping job. Officers reported that totaled $9,250.
Rast first told KARK 4 News he could not do an interview until mid-October because he was in New Orleans. but after finding his address on a court record, we stopped by. He was not home during our first try but on the second, we found him and not in Louisiana.
“I was in New Orleans until last mother f—— week,” Rast yelled. “It ain’t none of your business what the f— I do.”
Rast claimed to only be home for a couple of days for an appointment.
KARK 4 News asked Rast if he would go write Johnson a $1,500 check while he was in town.
“Yeah. I’ll go to my accountant in the morning and take care of it. How about that,” he said.
After agreeing to return the money, Johnson told us she never got that check, something she calls disappointing because she’s on a fixed income with medical bills.
“I want my money,” she said. “At this point, I don’t know how I will make that money back up ever.”
According to FederalPay.org, Rast received a COVID Paycheck Protection Program Loan back in April of 2021, totaling nearly $21,000.
Have a story you need the Working4You investigators on? Call our hotline (501) 340-4448.