The owner of a local home improvement company is in hot water, accused of criminal fraud and theft.
I caught up with Rod Arce twice in one day: First when he was coming out of court for a criminal case in Montgomery County, then as he was going into court in handcuffs for another criminal case in Chester County.
"Mr. Arce, my name is Nydia Han, I'm with Channel 6 Action News. What do you have to say for yourself?"
"I have no idea what's going on, that's what I can say for myself," he answered.
Arce owns South-Jersey based Omega Window Systems. He is facing criminal charges for taking deposits from people, but allegedly failing to do the work.
"He is being charged with home improvement fraud and also theft," said Detective Tom Wittig of Whitpain Township police.
"Theft, theft by deception, receiving stolen property and consumer fraud," said Valley Township Police Chief Joseph Friel.
"When you took deposits from people were you planning on doing the jobs or planning on ripping them off?" I asked.
"We were doing the jobs," Arce replied.
But that's not what people I talked to said.
In August of 2014, Angela Smith gave an Omega salesman a $446 deposit for a new cellar door.
In February of last year, the Thompson's gave a different salesman $500 for new windows.
Last April, after having had one positive experience with Omega, Veralee Redcay gave the company a $3,000 deposit for a new roof with a lifetime guarantee.
"And I did not get anything for the $3000. They never started," said Redcay. "I did get a lot of aggravation, a lot of stress, a lot of emails."
The Thompson's and Smith say Arce didn't do any of their work either.
"I was practically in tears when I'd be here waiting for them," said Smith.
The company has a F rating at the Better Business Bureau.
"Well, I don't want them to take advantage of someone else," said Redcay.
Omega Window Systems also goes by Omega Energy Systems, and Arce's LinkedIn profile shows he's the CEO of HomeShield Energy LLC, which he said is a separate entity.
All the consumers told me that Arce promised them refunds.
"I mean $400 isn't a lot to some people, but it was everything to me," said Smith.
Smith got her money back thanks to the Action News Troubleshooters and Call for Action.
"If I had a problem I would call it again. It was just wonderful," said Smith.
Unfortunately, Redcay and the Thompson's are still waiting for their money, despite emailed promises from Arce that he sent them last year.
"You know stating he was going to refund us the money and he never did. I was upset about it because $500 is not easy to come by, not for us anyway," said Mrs. Thompson.
"What about the Thompson's? They gave you $500," I asked Arce.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," he answered.
But the Thompson's said they both talked to Arce directly.
"He said to me $500 doesn't mean anything to us because we're a multi-million-dollar company," said Mrs. Thompson.
"Mr. Thompson's on dialysis. This is the last thing he needs," I told Arce. "You don't have anything to say to your customers? When are you going to give them their refunds?"
Arce didn't answer those questions as he was being escorted into court.
Arce is out on his own recognizance, and taking new jobs from potential new Omega customers.
Meantime, he emailed Action News the following statement:
"Omega and especially myself as a principle, are not in the business of cheating customers, the business hit a rough patch as any new start up may, I did not steal people's deposits as you make it seem, on the contrary, I have invested more of my own personal monies into Omega than I have ever taken out of the company. Every customer issue will be resolved and satisfied. This is only hurting Omega's opportunities as well as my own moving forward."
Arce said while he can't comment on pending litigation, including Redcay's criminal case, he did promise to look into the Thompson's case and any others Action News sends his way.
-Do not pay a company in cash. You should pay a deposit with a check or credit card.
-Realize that some companies do not require a deposit up front. For instance, the Thompson's ended up getting their windows and door installed by a company that didn't require payment until the work had already started.
-Before you hire any home improvement company or contractor, call your local police department to see if any complaints have been filed. You can also check with your county prosecutor. Also check with the Better Business Bureau and do an internet search on the company as well as the company owner.
If you believe you've been a victim of Rod Arce or any of his companies, authorities want to hear from you. Please call your local police department. You can also call the Economic Crimes unit in Montgomery County at 610-278-3138.
Troubleshooters: Local Company Owner Accused of Theft