State licensing officials are taking action against an electrician following a Local 2 hidden camera investigation. The investigation was prompted by a call from a worried Houston mother.
"What is your concern?" asked Local 2 investigative reporter Robert Arnold.
"That they're going to keep taking him into houses," the mother said. Local 2 is not revealing this mother's identity.
The mother who contacted Local 2 is referring to an electrician by the name of Robert Cecil Morris Jr. This mother said a chance internet search led her to discover that Morris has a criminal past.
"As soon as we found that, we didn't take him back there," she said.
State records show Morris has criminal convictions for theft, trespassing, driving with a suspended license and failing to identify himself to a peace officer. State records show Morris is also a registered sex offender.
Court records show the case involved an 11-year-old girl and that Morris was given deferred adjudication of guilt. Even though Morris completed his probation for that case, Texas Department of Public Safety records show he is required to register as a sex offender for life.
Court records also show Morris has a conviction for failing to register as a sex offender.
"When that popped up, tell me what went through your mind?" asked Arnold.
"Terrified," the mother said.
Local 2 also checked state licensing records and found Morris is not a licensed electrician.
Texas law requires all electricians to have a license to perform work at homes and businesses. A state license ensures the person doing the work has the necessary training, experience and insurance.
The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, which issues licenses, also has the discretion to a deny a license because of an applicant's criminal history.
After receiving a call from this mother Local 2 partnered with investigators from TDLR to determine if Morris was still performing electrical work without a license.
State investigators called Morris under the pretense of seeking a bid for electrical work at a home. Morris arrived at the home and proceeded to explain to an undercover state investigator what electrical work was needed on the home and how long it would take to complete the work.
"I do the work," Morris is heard on hidden camera video telling a state investigator.
"You do the work?" the investigator asked Morris.
Morris is then seen shaking his head, 'yes.'
Local 2 then questioned Morris, but he had no answers.
"You have a criminal record, you know you can't do this work because you've applied for licenses and been denied because of your criminal record," Arnold said.
"Mr. Morris do you want to say anything?" Arnold asked.
"I'm good," Morris said.
Local 2 discovered Morris was finding work as an electrician through his father's company. Morris' father is a licensed master electrician, but state regulations prohibit him from allowing his son to perform electrical work under his license.
Robert Morris Sr. was there while his son was talking with state investigators. Morris Sr. admitted he has allowed his son to work on jobs secured by his company because he was trying to help him "earn a living."
"Are you going to keep your son from going on jobs until he gets a license or at least a hearing?" Arnold asked.
"I have no choice," Morris Sr. said.
State officials said they have opened administrative cases against Morris and his father. The pair potentially faces steep fines from the state.
State officials said this situation is why consumers must check the license of every person who is going to perform work in their home or business. State officials said many consumers run into problems when they simply check the license of one contractor and then assume everyone working for that person is also licensed.
"I trusted someone that knew him and said, 'Yeah, he was licensed,'" the mother said. "Just don't go by somebody's trust, check it out for yourself."
You can check whether a contractor has a valid state license at www.tdlr.texas.gov.