NewsTeam 10 Investigates

Actions

California's contractors license board investigating San Diego painting company

Posted at 1:01 PM, Apr 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-11 21:16:17-04

WATCH FULL INVESTIGATIVE REPORT, TONIGHT ON 10NEWS at 6PM

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A North County couple said they paid a company thousands of dollars to put in a new kitchen, but that company never finished the job.

Months after signing the contract, they learned the guy in charge was the subject of multiple Team 10 investigations and had his license revoked by the Contractors State License Board.

“Maybe I was just naive, but it was an eye-opener,” said homeowner Mark.

Mark asked 10News not to use his last name.

He said while he and his wife were out of town a leak under the sink flooded their kitchen.

The couple hired a mitigation company to take care of the damage but needed a restoration company to build it back up.

They came across Mark Morningstar, who came highly recommended by a user on the website Nextdoor.

"One of the recommendations we got was through Maria, and Maria posed as a satisfied client,” Mark said. “She said, 'Hey, I know this person Marc Morningstar, he can do cabinet work, and he can do granite work. He can do basically everything.'"

Maria Meeuwisse was the listed author of Mark's recommendation, she is also the license holder for Quality Painting SoCal.

According to customers who spoke with Team 10, this is the same company where Morningstar works.

State records show the license was issued in August 2018 for a painting and decorating contractor.

Team 10 found postings on NextDoor from someone with the same name as Meeuwisse - talking up Morningstar and the company.

Thinking the reviews were real, Mark and Diana said they hired Quality Painting SoCal to fix their kitchen.

"He (Morningstar) said ya I can do all this quote-unquote,” Mark said. “I can act as your quarterback and take care of everything for you.”

Mark said Morningstar promised it would take about two weeks for the new kitchen and cost around $10,000.

So that's what Mark and Diana authorized on their credit card.

Mark said Morningstar brought in contractors to do the work, but things quickly went south.

They said the granite was installed incorrectly, cabinets weren't lining up, and eventually, crews stopped showing up, leaving Morningstar to do it himself.

"There would be a week, two weeks where he wouldn't show up, and the weeks he did show up, he would show up for a day, and during that day he would show up for a few hours, and it was clear he didn't know what he was doing,” Mark said.

Mark said months after Morningstar started the job, the kitchen wasn't done and Morningstar stopped showing up.

"We googled Marc (Morningstar), and the investigative news came up immediately -- hit number one,” he said. “We watched the video and were like, "Oh my god, that's that guy.'”

A 2017 Team 10 investigation exposed Morningstar's criminal business practices. Several former customers complained he took their money but never finished installing the fake grass.

Team 10 also learned Morningstar had done some of the work after his contractor's license was suspended. According to a spokesman for the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB), when a license is suspended, no contracts can be signed, no money can be paid, and no work can be done.

Morningstar was also accused of using another contractor's license number.

The CSLB eventually revoked Morningstar’s license.

Court records show in September 2018, Morningstar pleaded guilty to diversion of construction funds, grand theft of personal property and improper home improvement contract procedure.

Team 10 went to the listed address for Quality Painting SoCal to ask Morningstar about Mark and Diana's complaints.

A woman who identified herself as Maria Meeuwisse, the company’s license holder, answered the door and said Morningstar wasn’t there.

Team 10 investigator Adam Racusin told Meeuwisse customers are saying Morningstar is doing work without a contractor's license.

“Which is not true and we’ve been talking with the CSLB about that,” she said.

While asking Meeuwisse questions, a man who looked like Morningstar came in through a back entrance.

Team 10 investigator Adam Racusin tried to talk to the man, but Meeuwisse closed the door.

On Tuesday, the Contractors State License Board added disclosures to Quality Painting SoCal’s license. A disclosure means the CSLB has an open investigation against the company and has disclosed on its website that it believes there is evidence of a probable violation that would lead to either a suspension of revocation of the company’s contracting license and/or criminal prosecution.

CSLB’s investigation is open. There are no criminal charges at this time.

The two violations CSLB is investigating are a departure from trade standards or specs and willful or fraudulent act.

On Wednesday a spokesperson for the CSLB told Team 10 the company notified state officials it plans to shut down and cancel Quality Painting SoCal's license.

Mark and Diana said since they paid Morningstar on their credit card, they were able to dispute the charges with the credit card company.

While they were able to get their money back, they said they had to pay someone else to re-do most of the work.