Business owner says contractor walked off the job

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Huyen Clayton says she hired Demetrius Burton to remodel a Gulfport building on the inside and outside at a cost of $35,000. Clayton says she already gave Burton most of the money.

"I gave him four withdrawals, $28,000. And the total is $35,000," Clayton said. "He did, like you can see, I did not have a wall. I did not have a ceiling. I have a hole on the floor."

Clayton says Burton wanted the remaining $7,000 on the $35,000 contract.

"He say that you need to give me the rest of the money, I need to pay for the labor. I'm a small business and I need the cash flow. Oh, it's 90 percent of the job is done."

That was three weeks ago.

"He never did return to the job. He said, if I don't give him any money, he's not going to do nothing else."

Clayton called in another contractor, Mark Henson, who noticed a number of problems with the framing inside the building. Henson put a level on the door frame and showed me it was way off. He also says the work is far from being finished.

"They told the owners they were, what, 80 to 90 percent complete? If you look around, this is far from [that]," Henson said. "I say... about 30 percent."

I tracked down Demetrius Burton at his barber shop in Gulfport, but he told me he didn't want to be interviewed. Instead, I spoke with his partner, Warren Everett.

"She don't want to pay the rest of it that's due... so we can finish the job," Everett said. "All we got to do is get the final draw. We've got the sheet rock and everything and that's all we have to do is put the sheet rock in."

I asked Everett if he already spent the $28,000 and he said the money has already been spent.

Demetrius Burton added, "Regardless, regardless of what happened, the numbers don't lie. Because the receipts are not lying. The material is inside her building."

Everett said the building passed inspection by the city of Gulfport.

"It passed everything," he said.

I spoke with a Gulfport Building inspector who said the only thing that passed inspection was the plumbing and that other work needs to be completed before he can do a full inspection.

Ms. Clayton has filed a complaint with the State Attorney General's office.

"Very upset, very frustrated, because I work very hard for my money," Clayton said.

According to the State Board of Contractors, Clayton did exactly what the board advises, which is to not make the final payment until the job is complete.

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