MIAMI (CN) – A church claims that after it spent years helping a homeless drug addict get his life together, the man returned, falsely claiming to be a licensed contractor, cheated it of $1.2 million for a new church building, and demands $1.3 million more.
Iglesia Casa de Alabanza claims defendant William Fonseca first entered its doors in 2002, “a homeless man with no food and a serious drug problem, who walked through the church’s doors begging for five dollars so that he could buy himself a meal.”
The church says it gave him food and shelter and “devoted substantial time and resources over a period of years, going so far as to help him get into – and to return to – a drug rehabilitation center, which he has conceded got him back on his feet and turned his life around.”
The church says Fonseca repaid it “by lying to church leaders, duping them into believing he was grateful for the church’s assistance, and attempting to defraud them of the property … and/or millions of dollars.” The church adds: “Such behavior is not only actionable, it is immoral.”
The church says Fonseca claimed he could do its construction project for less money than the contractor it had selected – $1.2 million, rather than the other contractor’s $2.2 bid. The church says it already has paid Fonseca more than $1.2 million, that the project has barely begun, that he insists it will cost $5 million to do it, and has threatened to foreclose on the property.
The church says Fonseca now “lives in a waterfront home in the tony neighborhood of Keystone Point in North Miami, and claims to be a successful, licensed contractor.”
The church says Fonseca is not a licensed contractor and could not legally do the work he promised to do. It says that because it trusted him, it never put their deal in writing. It says it already has paid him $1.24 million, and that Fonseca claims he has spent $1.3 million of his own on the project, and has delivered the church a “demand note” and a “mortgage” for that amount.
It claims Fonseca said that he delivered the notes to try to show the IRS – falsely – that the $1.2 million the church had paid him was not income, but reimbursements for his own expenditures.
And it claims that at one point during the difficult negotiations, Fonseca told a church board member, “This is how I make my living. I get people to sign notes and sue them.”
The church also sues Fonseca’s business, Arch Creek Enterprises. It demands treble damages for breach of contract, fraud and negligent misrepresentation. It is represented in Miami-Dade County Court by Andrew Gold with Kluger, Peretz, Kaplan & Berlin.