HENDERSON COUNTY, NC (WLOS) — Former customer Robert Michales calls his former contractor Travis Galloway a "silver-tongued devil."
Now detectives in Transylvania, Henderson and Jackson counties are working multiple investigations into the four-time convicted felon, after News 13 began investigating Galloway's criminal history and business practices.
News 13 spoke with 13 of Galloway's former customers, who said they paid him thousands for substandard, and in many cases, unfinished work. Galloway according to customers, has a running theme of gaining customer's trust, getting downpayments, doing a little work, and then never coming back--but pocketing thousands.
Criminal and civil judgment records in two states uncovered by News 13 reveal Galloway has been defrauding people for years.
"Basically, I'm going to have to have the whole roof re-done," said Gloria Daves, of Mills River about the job Galloway did for her on her porch. Daves said she hired Galloway, saying he made a professional and seemingly dependable first impression.
"He was a good Christian man, he said," said Daves. "He had just lost his father, and he said to me, 'I know how it is, to find good help'."
After serving time for four felony Colorado convictions including check fraud and ID theft, Galloway set up a contracting business in Western North Carolina, where he had family.
"I found him on Facebook," said Daves, who like many customers News 13 spoke with, connected with Galloway through his Facebook page and postings on Facebook yard sale sites, where Galloway advertised his contracting business.
Since News 13 began its investigation, he has removed his Facebook contracting page.
"When I saw he wasn't going to do my block-work, I said, 'This man is going to rip me off,'" said Daves.
Daves showed News 13 pictures of her vinyl siding left by Galloway in a pile, along with plastic sheeting left hanging on her crawl space, and nails he used that were too long left exposed.
The Henderson county District Attorney's office, overseen by DA Greg Newman, dismissed Daves' criminal case.
The case was originally filed for Daves by a court magistrate. However, a Henderson county civil judge ruled in Daves' favor, awarding her $3500 of the monies she paid Galloway.
"I haven't seen any money from that," said Daves.
"I've been out and talked to the magistrate, the people at the sheriffs department, there's a detective working on it that won't return my call," said Daves, referring to a Henderson County Sheriffs Office detective, who according to District Attorney Greg Newman is working three open Galloway contracting cases.
The Henderson County Sheriff's Department has not returned News 13's request for comment on where their investigation into several cases, including Daves', stand.
Theresa and Jeff Wiemer of Sylva paid Galloway $12,000 to do a room addition on their home.
"Everything just rotted," said Theresa of the wood and wall paneling Galloway left sitting unfinished at their home.
Wiemer said Galloway started the job, but then, after getting the couple's money, never came back.
"This is how he left the place," said Theresa, who showed News 13 photos of the unfinished wood walls and floor Galloway began.
"I was in denial," said Wiemer. "I really thought he was coming back."
A civil judge also ruled in the Wiemers' favor, awarding them a $10,000 judgment.
Wiemer said she and her husband have never seen a dime of the money a judge said Galloway owes them in reimbursements for unfinished work.
The Wiemers are part of a group of former customers sharing their stories with News 13 in hopes of making sure Western North Carolinians hear about Galloway and his contracting operation.
News 13 sat down with customers and business operators who said they all have had bad experiences with Travis Galloway. When the group gathered at Fidelia's Restaurant in Horseshoe, we first asked if they felt they had been taken advantage of.
The answer was unanimous.
"Absolutely," said those who came, nodding their heads.
"He constantly said he was a man of his word," said Judy Spence, a former customer. "He had a professional-looking contract he drew up. My house was covered in plastic for four or five months, because he never came back to finish the gable-end."
"He mentioned he was a preacher," said Nancy Woodruff, also a former customer.
"I invited someone into my home who took advantage of me," said customer Kelly Cowell, who was also awarded a civil judgment against Galloway.
Cowell said Galloway did pay some, but not all, of the judgment back.
Cowell brought a binder full of photos of Galloway's work she said she had to have completely re-done in her bathroom.
Customer Nancy Woodruff said she and her husband hired Galloway after a tree fell on their roof and they needed an emergency repair.
"He had promised us a two-week turnaround," said Woodruff. "And a month later, nothing had been started."
Robert Michales of Asheville also hired Travis Galloway.
"We paid him a total of $12,000," said Michales, who also won a civil judgment against the contractor.
For the 13 customers News 13 spoke with, Galloway made $90,600 off deposits and charges for supplies.
"He took money knowing he was not going to complete the work," said Ashley Fortune, a Brevard-area attorney who sued Galloway on behalf of two customers.
"We won $13,500 and Mr. Galloway has only paid $500 of that back to my client."
"I lost $13,500," said Juan Dominguez, who is Fortune's client.
Dominguez, along with every customer News 13 has spoken, with want local police, sheriffs departments in Transylvania, Henderson, Jackson counties, along with area district attorneys to work together and aggressively act.
"They need to do something to him," said Dominquez of Galloway. "Because it's not good."
"We'd like to see him in jail," said customer Robert Michales.
In court records, News 13 found Galloway has a history of criminal charges including eight convictions and 11 civil judgments totaling $92,790.
Locally, so far, his criminal convictions have involved misdemeanors such as communicating threats and shoplifting.
Galloway was also a Colorado fugitive from justice escaping jail and traveling to the Brevard area, where authorities picked him up. He was convicted in Colorado in that case of felony escape.
Locally, in the past two years, court magistrates determined there was enough evidence in five contracting cases to charge Galloway with failure to work after being paid, which is a misdemeanor.
In one case, a judge ruled Galloway was not guilty. The district attorney's office, overseen by DA Greg Newman, dismissed three of the cases.
When asked about the dismissals, Newman told News 13 the cases should have been referred to Henderson County sheriff's detectives to investigate under a felony charge of obtaining property by false pretense.
News 13 spoke with Henderson county District Judge Thomas "Mack" Brittain, who oversees the Henderson county magistrates.
"I haven't heard anything that the magistrates have done here that's improper," said Brittain. "There are different intepretations of the (misdemeanor) statute."
But Brittain said the DA has a different and higher standard of proof to prove a case in court. When asked if he could understand, why Galloway's customers who filed charges with magistrates, are frustrated that the cases got dismissed, Brittain said he could.
"If I were victimized, I would go to law enforcement," said Brittain. "As supervisor of the magistrates, I don't know that there's anything that can be done to ease frustrations."
A grand jury recently indicted Galloway on a felony obtaining property by false pretense count. Greg Newman said he is investigating what additional cases with the help of law enforcement can be successfully prosecuted against Galloway.
"These cases are challenging for a variety of reasons," said Newman.
District Attorney Greg Newman says to get convictions he has to prove Galloway never intended to finish work.
"You have to show someone was intentionally deceiving someone in order to gain the money."
In September, News 13 found Galloway going before a judge learning another misdemeanor case against him was being dismissed.
Newman said he hopes to re-charge that case involving a customer, as a felony.
Outside the courtroom we waited for Galloway, who refused to answer questions. Galloway and a friend ran out of the courthouse as News 13's cameras followed him to the truck they took off in.
Roger Glass, a contractor is glad Galloway's story is now on TV.
"Believe me when I tell you this," said Glass. "There's a lot more than who you see in this room that he has duped. I have went behind him on several to finish jobs he got paid for."
As for Galloway's Christian pitch Glass said this.
"Jesus is good, but Travis ain't."
Contact Reporter: Kimberly King e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Law enforcement offices investigating Travis Galloway:
Transylvania County Sheriffs Department
Sheriff David Mahoney
Henderson County Sheriffs Department
Detective Daniel Gamez
Main Lines: (828) 697-4911, 697-4596
Jackson County Sheriffs Department
Det. John Beagle 586-4480
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein
Email complaint: https://www.ncdoj.gov/getdoc/59be4357-41f3-4377-b10f-3e8bd532da5f/Complaint-Form.aspx
District Attorney Greg Newman
Henderson, Polk and Transylvania counties
District Attorney Ashley Welch