COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Pikes Peak Regional Building Department is a allowing a home improvement company to keep working, even though the owner has continued to break the law. Fiore Garippo owns Home Improvement One Stop Shopping, and has admitted to Target 13 Investigates that he's done work without proper permits or licenses.
Garippo has a long list of complaints from former clients who said they paid him thousands of dollars, only to end up with shoddy and unlicensed work on their homes. Home Improvement One Stop Shopping has an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau, and contractors who have worked with Garippo said his business practices are appalling.
"They had done a lot of damage to this poor woman's home," recalls Mark McAninch, a contractor from Pueblo West, who briefly worked with Garippo's company. "She broke down in tears at least half a dozen times while I was there. That was the last straw for me."
Contractor Larry Lafferty told Target 13, it was watching Garippo try to take advantage of people that caused him to cut ties.
"The little old lady that he acts real sweet to, and all he's doing is milking her for everything she has," said Lafferty. "I mean, I thought that was a crime."
Garippo's criminal record spans several pages. Most of the charges are for theft, money issues and habitual traffic violations.
The Pikes Peak Regional Building Department found out Garippo was breaking its codes in 2009. He had been working without a license and pulling permits in homeowners names.
Since then, the building department has given Garippo several warnings and chances to act within the law. Target 13 obtained an e-mail to Garippo from Pikes Peak Regional Building attorney Todd Welch that said, "I thought I made it very clear we would not allow this to continue...This needs to STOP!"
Welch filed a lawsuit for a permanent injunction against Garippo's company, but dropped the case when Garippo promised to play by the rules, and work with a licensed contractor. Just a few weeks ago, Garippo showed Target 13 a basement remodel where he had pulled the permit in the homeowners name, and did all the work without a contractor.
We asked Welch why Garripo faces no sanctions from Pikes Peak Regional Building.
"It does appear we're being really easy on this guy," said Welch. "Regional Building is not trying to put Mr. Garippo out of business. What we're trying to do is make sure he follows the law, and he keeps promising me he will."
Garripo told Target 13 and Regional Building that he's now working with a licensed contractor from Eastern Colorado Builders. For now, he's getting another chance.
"My patience only goes so far," said Welch. "I think this is going to be his last chance, at least as far as I'm concerned."
The contractors who formerly worked with Garippo said they can't understand how he's is still in business.
"I am shocked and amazed that they're allowing this to continue as long as it has," said McAninch.
"I think Regional is screwing up," said Lafferty. "Because it's like the intersection where there's bad accidents, and they have to wait until 10 people get killed. I mean, if one person's hurt, it should stop. And this guy's hurting a lot of people."
Target 13 Investigates will continue to follow this story.