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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – A woman in the east Las Vegas valley joined forces with a state agency Thursday to warn consumers to steer clear of people who claim to be licensed contractors.

“I thought I could trust him, and look what happened,” Barbara Ojito, an elderly homeowner who lives with – and cares for – her brother, who has special needs.

Ojito dipped rather deeply into her nest egg – several thousand she says was bequeathed to her by her parents before they died – to pay a contractor to restore her back porch and roof. However, he took over $8,000 from her, Ojito said, and stopped work. Further, she said, the work he actually did was shoddy, and her roof leaks, she has a leak on her bathroom ceiling, outlets don’t work, and there is unfinished masonry throughout.

Barbara Ojito paid to have her porch and roof redone but the job remains unfinished. (KLAS)

“Now I’m stuck with this, in this situation right now, where I don’t have any more money to finish this job,” she said.

Ojito recorded the contractor – Alfred Martin Lagunas – taking her last few hundred dollars while he was still working at her home. Once she paid him, he returned to the job site once, and then she never heard from him again.

“He took off with the money,” she said.

Lagunas faced similar charges for engaging as a contractor without a license in 2014. He paid restitution in that case, but Ojito isn’t so sure she’ll see any money from Lagunas.

“I hope he pays for what he did,” Ojito said.

Alfred Martin Lagunas faces charges of engaging in business without a contractor license – a gross misdemeanor that carries with it a penalty of one year in prison or a $10,000 fine, according to the Nevada State Contractors Board (Barbara Ojito)

Lagunas is in Las Vegas Justice Court on March 11, facing charges of engaging in business without a contractor license – a gross misdemeanor that carries with it a penalty of one year in prison or a $10,000 fine, according to Randy Escamilla of the Nevada State Contractors Board, which investigated Lagunas’ case before handing it over to the Clark County District Attorney.

Escamilla said unlicensed contractors do not carry workman’s compensation insurance, and that homeowners could end up footing the bill if someone gets hurt on the job. All contractors working in Nevada must have a license from the state contractors board.

“This is a serious issue,” Escamilla told the 8 News Now Investigators, pointing out that the board receives hundreds of such complaints each year.

Any state-licensed contractor is listed on the Nevada State Contractors Board’s website.

Escamila said you can also call the board at 702-486-1100 if you need information not readily found on the board’s website.

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