(WJBK) - Imagine having your house torn apart for more than a year all because the man you hired to finish your basement never finished.
Problem solver Rob Wolchek says this guy took tens of thousands of dollars from some of his customers. You can watch Rob's Hall of Shame investigation in the video player, or continue read the story below.
Meet Greg Zakucia, a basement guy who's sunk pretty low.
Rob Wolchek: "I need to ask you about some of these people who've complained to me about you not finishing their jobs in the basement. Can you fill me in a little bit?"
Zakucia: "I was fired."
That's a pretty interesting excuse for not completing a bunch of finished basements he was hired to do.
Wolchek: "Your house has been torn apart for more than a year?"
"For more than a year, yes," said one customer.
Basement jobs Greg collected big bucks on.
"We've given him approximately $80,000," said another customer.
All these people hired Greg Zakucia to finish their basements. Greg's company was called Plan 2 Finish -- and he may have planned to finish, but for them he never did.
"He has a schedule where you write him checks as he begins phases of the project," said Chris.
Chris says he gave Greg $40,000 altogether in those phases but after a year, his basement still wasn't done.
"He can get pretty nasty," Chris said. "He'll get accusatory with you."
Sue, like all his customers Wolchek spoke to, says Greg throws it back on them when the jobs don't get finished.
"'It's your fault - I'm doing the best I can,'" Sue says Greg would say.
She and her husband, Joe, hired Greg to finish the basement on their brand new house before they moved in. The rest of the home was done on time, but not Greg's part.
"The basement is still a construction zone," Sue said. "It looks exactly the same as it did eight months ago."
"He would get kind of belligerent and a little, I would call it aggressive at times with us, saying it was our fault," said Brian.
Brian says the same thing. His wife was pregnant and they needed the basement finished to expand their family.
"He assured us this would be done in two to three months, which was well in advance of the birth of our child," he said.
He says he paid Greg $40,000 and Greg hardly ever showed up to do any work.
"The baby's born and at that point we moved out of the house for 26 days to give him an opportunity," he said. "We didn't want a brand new baby around this dust that was all over
our house and also give him an opportunity to and give him unlimited access to the house, get in there, finish it."
Wolchek: "And he didn't do it?"
"He didn't do a day of work," Brian said.
Then there's Linda. She was also pregnant and also claims she paid Greg $40,000.
"We really need this done because we're going to have a new baby," she said. "And he promised it would be done, and then it obviously was halfway completed."
These four families combined, claim to have given Greg Zakucia $200,000.
So, what did he do with the money?
Well, Wolchek can tell you this much: Greg's not some bum living in his mom's basement. He's got a fancy pants pad of his own with a bunch of fancy pants cars parked in front.
But whenever FOX 2 watched Greg, we never saw him working too hard to finish anyone's job. We just saw him mulling around day after day.
In fact, apparently Greg wasn't even ambitious enough to get his contractor's license.
"When he signed our contract, he didn't have a valid Michigan builder's license," Chris said.
"There was a number on the contract but it was an invalid number," Sue said.
Just last year, Zakucia pleaded guilty to criminal charges of working without a license. But eventually - also last year - he did get a license. But he's still facing more charges for jobs he took before he was licensed.
It was time for Wolchek to talk to this cellar feller.
"Greg Zakucia, Rob Wolchek from FOX 2. How you doing today?"
"I'm good, no comment," he said.
Wolchek: "Well I need to ask you about some of these people who've complained to me about not finishing their jobs in the basement."
"I was fired," he said.
"You were fired," Wolchek asked. "From all four of the families I've talked to? They all fired you?"
"That's correct, no comment," said Zakucia.
Now at this point, Greg doesn't even know what families Wolchek has spoken to. But according to his customers, this 'You fired me' excuse is Greg's game plan when people get fed up with him. Listen to what Chris said:
"He actually sent me an email one time that said 'I'd be in your house right now working if you hadn't have fired me,'" Chris said. "And I said, show me the email where I fired you? There's a lockbox on the back of my house right now. You can get in my house right now and work."
Greg goes to his preliminary hearing in Oakland County's 52-3 Court and claims he wants to go to trial.
Afterwards, Wolchek is ready to talk to Greg Zakucia again but this time he's got backup - his attorney who sure seems to work a lot harder than him.
Wolchek: "So Greg, you're trying to tell me you got fired from all those jobs."
Attorney: "Sir. Thank you very much, I know you're doing your job, but please."
Wolchek: "So Greg ..."
Attorney: "Please, please. Stop trying to bully my client."
Wolchek: "I'm not trying to bully him, he took a bunch of money from people. What have you got to say Greg?"
Attorney: "Sir, please."
Wolchek: "Greg, do you want to apologize?"
Attorney: "Sir, please."
Wolchek: "He already told me he got fired. So, Greg, if you got fired from all four of those jobs ..."
Attorney: "Sir you're badgering him."
Wolchek: "You're badgering me."
Attorney: “I’ve asked you more than once ... don't touch me."
Wolchek: "I'm not touching you, I'm trying to talk to him. Greg, if you got fired how come you kept all the money?"
With that, Greg the basement guy rolls off.
Hey Greg Zakucia, see you in the Hhhhhhalll of shame!"
Greg Zakucia is working under a new name, Remodel Inc. but he has the same old problems. He is being charged with being an unlicensed residential builder. He says he's not guilty.
He already has one conviction for that, and now he has a license, but he has two open investigations with the state licensing board.