Channel 2 Investigates tracks down contractor accused of not finishing work

Marcus Thompson admits to paying cash for vacation in Mexico before Ch. 7 filing

HOUSTON – He’s a big, burly, barn-building contractor -- but when Channel 2 Investigates finally caught up to him, after trying to track him down for three months, he hid underneath a big umbrella.

“Hey Marcus. Marcus, let us talk to you for a minute," I asked him, but received no answer.

We at Channel 2 are not the only ones who want to question this man.

Who is he?

He is Marcus Thompson, the owner of Lonestar Barn Company, and, according to Thompson’s recent bankruptcy filing, there are 15 families that claim Thompson owes them collectively more than $650,000.

Jay Stevens and his wife, Kay, from Teague, Texas, said Thompson took $55,000 from them.

Mark Drosos and his wife, Kalli, said they paid Thompson more than $50,000 more than 15 months ago, and to this day, they have nothing to show for that money but a large mound of dirt and a few holes drilled into the ground.

"We actually had to build the pad for the building ourselves and he drilled a couple holes in the pad, and that was it," Mark Drosos said.

Robert and Janice Koether, two schoolteachers from Legget, Texas, said they gave Thompson $60,000 out of their retirement account to build them a new, metal home.

They said some framing went up, but no concrete was ever poured. Now, they claim, the wood is bowing and nails are separating from the boards.

"That’s our retirement money," Janice Koether said. "I have emails where he says, 'Oh, I’ll be there tomorrow.  The rain prevented me today.' 'Oh, my crew, half of them is sick,' or whatever. And he didn’t show up."

Chris Louviere and his wife, Tricia, a blue-collar couple from Rosharon raising three young children, said they paid Thompson $22,000 for a workshop, and got nothing for their money.

"He has done no work at all," Tricia Louviere said. "He didn’t even deliver materials. He did not start the job, nothing."

Now Thompson, who has done work under several company names, Lonestar Buildings, A-1 Innovator Builders, Texas Barn Crafters and Lonestar Barn Company -- a man who reports on his bankruptcy filing that he took in $449,342.91 in gross income over the 12 months before he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy -- is claiming he can’t pay all of his debts.

Many of those people who gave him money are furious.

"If he was in our house taking money, we could do something about it," Jay Stevens said. "But out on the street, it’s the (bankruptcy) laws that are protecting him, and that is just wrong."

Added his wife, Kay Stevens, "What he’s doing is wrong and you have to be held accountable for what you do."

At his first bankruptcy meeting at the federal courthouse in Houston, Thompson admitted taking a vacation to Mexico with his family just a couple of weeks before filing for bankruptcy.

In fact, he said, he paid for the vacation in cash.

"How is it possible you could take a vacation to Mexico and then file for bankruptcy two weeks later?" I asked Thompson, as he stood underneath his big umbrella.

Thompson started to answer, but then abruptly stopped himself.

Later, with the camera turned off, Thompson said he had good reasons for not completing many of those projects.

He said weeks of bad weather, rain and workers not showing up are to blame for the unfinished work.

If you are planning to hire a building contractor to build your dream project, the Houston Chapter of the Better Business Bureau has the following list of important tips to protect you.