SEYMOUR, Tenn. (WATE) – A paving contractor hired to put in a driveway scammed a young family in Seymour. The paver never put blacktop down, but was paid for the job.
The contractor has a history with several police departments and came up with numerous excuses as to why he delayed paving the driveway.
When the Harrises moved into their new home at the edge of the Smoky Mountains, one of the first projects on their list was to pave their dirt driveway. They contacted several contractors, received three bids, and eventually settled on a Knoxville paving company that did not offer the lowest bid, They had no idea it would be the wrong choice.
Since early summer, Joseph Harris has had to hoof it up their long driveway. The car has to be parked at the front end of the drive.
“It’s tough. I don’t know if you noticed my feet just slip and slide in the ruts. It’s all just loose gravel,” he said.
The 1/10th mile driveway is not supposed to look like this.
“I expected a nice blacktop driveway that we could use to pull up to the house,” Harris said.
There is no blacktop drive. WATE 6 On Your Side’s four-wheel drive vehicle bounced along through the loose gravel and had to apply extra power to make it up.
“My car doesn’t make it this far. It will start grinding into the gravel,” said Harris.
The first price was $13,500, but Harris says when contractor R.D. Asphalt Paving of Knoxville arrived to start the job, the contract was changed.
“He shows up to do the work. My wife came out to meet him and he presented a new contract,” Harris said.
The price had changed to $18,000. At the time it was signed, Harris’s wife couldn’t reach him by phone.
“He basically intimidated her to sign this contract. She came back to our previous residence in tears,” said Harris.
The man he hired is Frank Small. He has police records in Sullivan County, Tennessee; and Mercer County, West Virginia.
“I’ve been trying to get the contractor back out. He put it in at the end of June,” said Harris.
He showed text messages between himself and Small.
“He’s come out once to ‘fix it,'” said Harris. “They basically put down wet sand and steam rolled it and that was it.”
Knoxville Police Detective Richard Giammarino has investigated Frank Small. Pictures of the detective’s case in South Knoxville show grass growing through blacktop weeks after it was applied by Small. He charged the customer $10,500. Police have charged Small for operating without a license.
WATE 6 On Your Side spoke with Small last month. He said bad weather held up paving Harris’s driveway.
“We put some base down and it washed out, and we went back,” he said.
Small said he expects to finish the driveway, but said it takes time.
R.D. Asphalt Paving is in East Knox County where a lot of equipment is parked alongside the building. The office was closed with a no trespassing sign at the front door when WATE tried to visit. However, by phone, Small said he recently fired his office manager and is currently looking for a replacement. Small also said he sent messages to Harris telling him he wanted to complete the driveway now that the weather is clear and dry. Small said he’s “done nothing wrong.”
Harris said he’s been advised by police not to let his contractor return, so he’s fired Frank Small.
“If you run into this man, avoid him at all costs,” said Harris.
Small said Wednesday he wants to do things right and to be left alone. He reiterated he did nothing wrong at Harris’s home. Small is scheduled to appear in General Session Court in Knoxville on October 19 on a charge of operating as an unlicensed contractor, which he is supposed to have, according to state law.