'I'm so angry': Homeowners file numerous complaints about New Jersey landscaping business

ByNydia Han and Heather Grubola WPVI logo
Friday, February 24, 2023
Homeowners file numerous complaints about NJ landscaping business
The Troubleshooters have received numerous complaints about a local landscaping and construction company. The business also has eight complaints with the New Jersey Attorney General's office.

The Troubleshooters have received numerous complaints about a landscaping and construction company. The business, run by father and son Brent Stephens and Zack Sulpizi, also has eight complaints with the New Jersey Attorney General's office.

The company used to identify itself as Stephens Contracting but an arrest warrant has been issued for Brent Stephens for failing to pay a court judgment. His son is now operating under a different name.

"I just still cannot believe this happened to us", said Matthew Chando, of Clementon, Camden County.

The consumers Action News spoke with are shell-shocked and heartbroken.

"You never believe that somebody would do this to you. It's just horrible," said Jeanne Moriak of Swedesboro, Gloucester County.

They are now warning others.

"I feel angry and I also feel like a victim," said Chando.

The Chandos paid Brent Stephens and Zack Sulpizi of Stephens Contracting $27,000.

Jeanne Moriak paid $60,000 and Sharon Brudnicki and Gerard Maher paid the company $125,000. They all say their work was never finished.

The Chandos and Moriak then received the same letter claiming Stephens Contracting is out of money.

"We're withdrawing from this project due to financial constraints and staffing constraints," said Chando.

"Our company has decided to file for bankruptcy," Moriak read.

"And they are currently out there looking for more business," said Chando.

And some customers say the work Stephens did failed to pass inspections, leaving them having to hire others to fix it.

"I'm so angry. There's so much work and so much energy that needs to go into making this right," said Brudnicki. "It's well over six figures for us to be able to get the repairs done to what we need to do."

The Troubleshooters spoke over the phone with a representative from Stephens Contracting who refused to give his name.

"What do you have to say for yourself and the way your company operates?" asked Action News' Nydia Han.

"The company strives each day to do right by everybody. Unfortunately, you cannot make everybody happy," said the representative. "After an extreme spike in business during the pandemic, we watched a downfall occur."

The company blames material and labor shortages and some of its customers, saying many ran out of money and could no longer pay for projects.

"There are numerous amount of happy customers," said the rep. "You're talking to four out of probably 400."

The representative, whose voice sounds just like Zack Sulpizi's, said the construction side of the company filed for bankruptcy but the paver side is trying to continue operations through a third party.

What he did not say is that the company is using a new name, American Crafters.

According to a Facebook post, Brent Stephens "unexpectedly" retired due to health issues and Sulpizi is taking over the business.

Action News is aware of at least four lawsuits against Stephens Contracting alleging work "that was not done at all... defective...utterly deficient...or had to be replaced."

"They won a judgment against you for $146,000 but have yet to see that money. Are you going to pay them that judgment?" asked Han.

"Stevens Contracting wasn't properly notified and the default judgment went against them," said the rep.

While Stephens offers a defense for the other judgment and each complaint these consumers have a warning.

"I want to stop any person from hiring them. Because this has been going on for years. And they're they seem untouchable. And that's the hardest part," said Moriak.