Posted at: 07/17/2014 10:18 PM
By: Ryan Luby, KOB Eyewitness News 4
The man who now owns New Mexico Air and Solar, a company that’s accused of not completing tens of thousands of dollars of work, could soon go to prison – for unrelated issues.
The investigative team at KOB Eyewitness News 4 uncovered a criminal history for Ronnie Sampson that, most recently, includes larceny, negligent use of a deadly weapon, and animal cruelty in 2011. He pleaded no contest to those charges and faces sentencing soon.
Also, he stands accused of beating his girlfriend unconscious in October.
KOB spoke with two more families who, collectively, said they were ripped off by Sampson's company for more than $40,000.
"I'll never see a dime of this money," said Rio Rancho homeowner Manny Gonzalez.
Around September, he opted to buy solar panels from New Mexico Air and Solar. He wanted to save on his energy bills.
"The way they explained it to me, it would pay for itself in like four years," Gonzalez said.
Over the course of a few weeks, Gonzalez said he paid the company roughly $25,000.
The company never installed the panels except for the mounting brackets. All he received were tankless water heaters as part of a package deal. The plumber who installed them was never paid. He subsequently filed on lien on Gonzalez's property.
"Now we have this tremendous amount of debt, and nothing to show for it," Gonzalez said.
In Northwest Albuquerque, Bill and Rose Brown paid nearly $17,000 in April 2013 for solar panels and a refrigerated air and heater unit. The company installed them, but state inspectors found numerous code violations.
Additionally, the heater hardly worked last winter. The couple bought space heaters and a pellet stove to heat their home.
"We burned approximately a ton of pellets every two weeks," Bill Brown said.
They said their bedroom was unlivable.
"Freezing cold back there," Rose said.
"Like a refrigerator," Bill said.
Gonzalez and the Browns feel cheated by New Mexico Air and Solar. Not only do they blame Sampson, but the company's former owner, Jason Lutz, as well. They said the men never fulfilled promises they made to either complete or fix their work.
Both families found the company through a coupon and article published in the New Mexico Market Place flier.
"If you're doing this to this many people for this much money, and just continue to get away with it, you need to go to jail for a very long time," Gonzalez said.
New Mexico Air and Solar is now the subject of numerous complaints and investigations by New Mexico's Attorney General's Office and the Regulation and Licensing Department.