Contractor files bankruptcy; leaves trail of unhappy customers
MUKWONAGO, Wis. – A construction company with a fancy-sounding name has gone out of business, leaving a trail of dissatisfied customers in its wake.
Julie Aguilar in Mukwonago wants to do more in her attic than store Christmas presents – converting the attic into a home office was her Christmas present last year.
“I thought it would be ready last March,” Aguilar told Contact 6.
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Aguilar paid Nathan Noble Regina of Nobleman LLC about $6,500 for the job last winter. She now says there is nothing noble about his business practices.
“He’s a classic scammer,” Aguilar told Contact 6.
In a LinkedIn profile, Regina said he was a “human person who wants to help others.” Aguilar said Regina ignored her email for weeks and never started work in her attic. She requested a refund in June. In October, she received notification of his Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing.
“It’s really disappointing that there are people like that,” Aguilar said.
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Wisconsin Consumer Protection tells Contact 6 that it has received 12 complaints this year about Nobleman LLC. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) received nine complaints between May and September 2022. The BBB said the complaints “remained unanswered by the company.” In August, the BBB announced to Nobleman LLC that it had discovered a pattern of complaints.
The BBB said, “These complaints concern consumers who allege that they contracted with Nobleman LLC for various home projects, made one or more down payments, and the work was not completed, or in some cases not started, months after the down payment was paid. Consumers also state that attempts to communicate with the company have been difficult.”
According to state records, Nobleman LLC existed for just a year and a half before being dissolved in October.
Contact 6 wanted to speak to Regina. No one answered the door at two addresses listed in court records. His bankruptcy attorney did not respond to Contact 6’s emails or a voicemail. Phone numbers previously associated with Regina no longer work.
His bankruptcy filing reveals more than 20 potential clients who are owed money, such as Aguilar and Philip Ufnowski in Franklin.
In July 2021, Ufnowski paid Nobleman LLC $635 to replace an outdoor support column attacked by carpenter ants. When work didn’t start, Ufnowski said Regina told him he would get a refund.
“That never happened,” Ufnowski said. “That’s the last contact I had with him until I get home and get a paper from a federal court.”
James Miller is a bankruptcy attorney for Miller & Miller representing contractors. He was also a victim of construction theft. He doesn’t represent Regina.
According to Miller, a contractor could file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy for several reasons: to stop aggressive debt collection efforts, eliminate as much debt as possible, and create a repayment plan.
“It makes no sense [customers] going to the contractor because you’re not allowed to,” Miller said. “A lot of the contractors that come to me are scared. They didn’t want it to escalate to where it escalates.”
Regina’s filing states that clients like Aguilar and Ufnowski have priority unsecured claims and are recovering up to $3,350 through Chapter 13 proceedings. Customers who owed more than $3,350 from Nobleman LLC could see their remainder wiped out.
To get money, customers have to file a claim with the bankruptcy court. Miller says any customers owed a large sum can attempt to file adversarial lawsuits alleging their debts are non-recoverable because they were obtained through fraud.
Bankruptcy prevents customers from filing lawsuits in small claims courts.
Miller tells Contact 6 that about half of Chapter 13 bankruptcies fail. This can happen when a contractor misses their monthly payments or violates bankruptcy rules. When that happens, Miller says, “all bets are on in terms of bankruptcy,” and consumers can resume their collection efforts.
Even when filing for bankruptcy, there is nothing stopping consumers from speaking to their local district attorney’s office or law enforcement agencies about a possible criminal case.
An affidavit filed in November reveals that Glendale Police are investigating Regina for theft by a contractor. The document states that Nobleman LLC was paid $4,485 by a Glendale man in July 2021. It was a down payment for a deck project that never got started.
As of December, Regina was not criminally charged.
Contact 6 spoke behind the camera with three other dissatisfied clients of Nobleman LLC. They all say they gave Regina down payments for projects that never got started.
Aguilar hopes to finally hire another contractor to renovate her attic in 2023.
“In the end, I doubt I’ll see my money,” Aguilar said. “It’s just very disappointing.”
If you are notified that your contractor has filed for bankruptcy: Do not attempt to contact them. Call an attorney and then file a lawsuit in court. A Chapter 13 repayment plan typically lasts three to five years.