The business owner left the unopened cigar lounge after being scammed out of $26,000

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Westside business owner accuses an electric company of taking his money without completing the job.

Andrew Messiana was due to open a cigar lounge called Tobacco Galore at least nine months ago, but his plans were involuntarily put on hold when Covenant Electric failed to end the service.

Messiana said he moved a 70-year-old building near the corner of Normandy and Lenox Avenues to convert it into an upscale cigar lounge. He said he hired an architect to develop the designs and then hired licensed electrician Leroy Bass, owner of Covenant Electric – based on a friend’s recommendation.

Bass was to install the new electrical system to bring the building up to the code required before Messiana could begin operations. He paid the company $26,000.

Messiana said Bass started the job in October 2021, but on November 12, 2021, the electrician told him he had other jobs to do, so he stopped working at the cigar lounge and told Messiana he would have his assistant brought back with him.

Messiana said Bass has since not shown up for work until August 29 this year. He was then told it would be another four weeks of work to get everything electrically onto the code.

“Over a period of three weeks he asked for more money. I’ve been trying to figure out why,” Messiana said.

Then, according to Messiana, Bass came back about five weeks ago and just installed a meter.

“[He] left everything out and drove away, and that was the last I saw of him,” Messiana said. “He doesn’t answer my calls. He no longer responds to my messages.”

Messiana said he felt he had been betrayed by Bass.

According to the Better Business Bureau, Covenant Electric was on its radar. Prior to this incident, two complaints were filed against the company. The latest complaint was when a homeowner complained about failing to pass a municipal inspection after work on an electrical system began in 2020 but was never completed.

According to the Florida Department of Business and Regulation, multiple complaints dating back to 2010 were filed against the electric company and its owner, Bass.

The BBB’s Tom Stephens explained the best way to avoid these problems.

“Do your homework outside of these recommendations. Google the company name with the word “scam” or “review” after it and you’ll see if anything happened; It’s going to be somewhere on the internet,” Stephens said.

Stephens also suggested going online to see if the contractor is licensed and to check that the license is current. In addition, Stephen said one should contact more than one contractor to get an idea of ​​which one is right for the project.

News4JAX spoke to Bass and he denied any wrongdoing.

Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4JAX – All Rights Reserved.

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