CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC — The News 2 I-Team received several complaints about a Lowcountry contractor accepting money for work he never finished.
“Going through the Charleston County Court docket it seems there’s 50 people who have won judgements against Robert Hedgepath,” said Colonel William McArdle.
About a year ago, McArdle, a retired Air Force Colonel, hired Robert Hedgepath to build a brick path outside his home on Daniel Island.
“He asked for a $3,000 deposit,” said McArdle, “so, I wrote out a $3,000 check on a Friday at 4:30 in the afternoon, it was cashed before 5:00 pm, and it just gave me a bad vibe.”
McArdle tried to get Hedgepath to schedule the work and finish the project, but days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months, and the project was never completed.
“There would always be an excuse [from Hedgepath] ‘I’m on another job,’ ‘I’m out of the country,’ ‘I’m not feeling,’ ‘We’ll be there tomorrow,’ ‘We’ll be there next Thursday,’ said McArdle.
McArdle said Hedgepath showed up a few times with his partner, but after several months, McArdle asked for his money back. And this past November, nearly eight months after giving him that $3,000 check, and without one brick laid in his path, he took Hedgepath to small claims court.
“That leads me to question, why is he still walking around? Why is he not in jail,” McArdle said.
Our investigation found there’s a line between what’s criminal, and what’s civil, when it comes to contract work that’s paid for but never completed. We asked former South Carolina Attorney General Charlie Condon, who is now a criminal defense lawyer in Mount Pleasant.
Condon says if the contractor begins any of the work at all, it’s a civil matter.
“Officers are trained that way, appropriately so,” said Condon. “Prosecutors, if cases are made, they’ll generally dismiss those cases, because you cannot prove fraudulent intention and it becomes a dispute over the amount of civil work done. That should be handled in civil court.”
Kevin Pietramala and his wife hired Hedgepath to build a brick patio in their Mount Pleasant backyard, paying him $6,000 up front. But Ken says all Hedgepath did was break up the old patio.
“He said it was going to take 6 weeks to get the brick in. When I got suspicious I called the brick company and found out he didn’t even order it,” said Pietramala.
News 2’s Libba Holland dug through court records and found many similar stories. Dozens of civil cases against Hedgepath dating back to 1999 are posted on the Charleston County public index website.
“The reason we contacted you is because we learned there are so many other people that have been scammed out of money because of Robert Hedgepath, and it’s been going on for 10 years now,” said McArdle.
News 2 also checked with the agency that licenses contractors in South Carolina and Robert Hedgepath doesn’t have one. His residential builders license lapsed in 2008, his specialty registration lapsed in 2005, and his home inspector license lapsed in 2004.
The I-Team wanted to ask Hedgepath about these claims, but no one answered at the address we found for him in Mount Pleasant. But we did spea
Consumer investigator Libba Holland did get Hedgepath on the phone, but not for long, and he gave several excuses for why he couldn’t meet in person. In a second phone conversation, Holland asked him about two claims against him, including one where he owe owes $320,000.
“What’s your point with this?” Hedgepath asked. “So does just about every other builder in this town. That went on way back from when the economy went bad.”
“Those are being dealt with and have been dealt with,” Hedgepath said. He also told News 2 several of the cases against him have been settled. But Col. McArdle still hasn’t received any of his money back.