N4T Investigators" Un-real estate? - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Un-real estate?

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Tucson – Several former investors and clients say they want the public to know about a businessman named John Charles Puplava.

Kevin Chugg told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, “I want them to be aware of this gentleman who isn't what he says he is.”

Jeff Bleeker said, “I’m here telling my story, because I want him to be exposed for what he is and I want people to be able to avoid him.”

These are just two of several people who told us they lost John Puplava. He's a 32-year old Tucson resident who's worked in real estate and home renovations. Former  partners say Puplava attracts investors by telling them he'll fix-up properties and flip them for big profits.  But they say he often doesn't finish the job and walks away with their money.  Pima County court records show Puplava has been the target of several lawsuits.  Someone even started a web site called, "Johnpuplavaisaf------ thief.com."

Bleeker said he lost about $250,000 through working with Puplava. “It’s hard to deal with, it’s a bitter pill,” Bleeker said.

Bleeker is a private lender who says the first couple of house flips he partnered with Puplava on went well. So Bleeker says he paid Puplava, and one of his companies, "Parker Charles Investments", more money to renovate several homes, “None of which had been completed,” Bleeker said. “The work that had been done was done poorly, and much of the money that I gave him as an advance to do the work did not get spent on the projects.”

Bleeker says he decided not to sue because he's aware Puplava didn't pay other investors in court cases he lost. We found unpaid judgments against Puplava for $241,000, $58,000 and $5500.

Kevin Chugg says, “He should pay for what he's done”.”

Chugg says he paid Puplava $5500 as a down payment on a house. Chugg says many months went by with nothing happening regarding the purchase. 

“He said he'd cancel it and send my money back. So I said, 'Well, I really don't...that's not what my intent was. I want the property, because we made a deal and we negotiated it and you owe me the property.  That's when he said, 'Well, then you're not getting any money back.’” 

Chugg says he didn't want to sue Puplava so he and a friend went to his house to try to collect. He says he sat in his car across the street while his friend went to the door, which Puplava closed. Chugg says when his friend knocked a second time, Puplava appeared, with a gun.

“Did he point the gun at your friend's face?,” we asked Chugg. “Point blank,” he said.

Puplava was arrested but the county attorney declined to press charges. So Chugg took him to court, and was awarded his $5500 back, plus costs. He says he hasn't received a cent. “He needs to be punished,” Chugg said.

Puplava was sued in June by a man who claims he gave him $32,000 to build duplex homes, which, the suit claims, didn't happen. The suit also says Puplava told the investor his name was "John Charles," and that he was a licensed contractor. 

Susann Miller of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona says Puplava’s company, “Tool Time Construction, LLC,” has an F rating because they do not have a license. Miller adds, “If we need to get the attorney general involved, that’s what we will do.”

Indeed, state records show Puplava's contractor's license, under that company name, "Tool Time Construction, LLC" was revoked in 2012. 

We went to the last known address we have for Puplava. No one answered the door. We left a note for him to call us and then called him and left a message. He has not responded to both attempts seeking comment.

Chugg says, “I'm surprised that no one has done anything to stop him.” We asked him, Are you disappointed with authorities?” “Absolutely,” he said. 

“It's infuriating,” Bleeker said.

A spokesman for the Arizona Registrar of Contractors says it received a complaint in August that Puplava was doing work without a license, using the name, "John Charles” (his middle name). AROC investigated and found the allegations of "Contracting and Advertising without a License were substantiated." The agency fined Puplava $2500  and issued a cease and desist order. 

The spokesman says Puplava has not paid that fine. 

If you have any story you'd like us to investigate, email us at investigators@kvoa.com or call our tip line at 520-955-4444. 

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