ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — 69-year-old Betty Grimsley says her home on Garfield Drive in Escambia County is unlivable. Grimsley says she wired a $23,203 deposit to Robert Stromas IV to begin the remodel on her house.
The work began in July of 2022, but Grimsley says Stromas stopped showing up to the job site and failed to return her phone calls.
“At first I didn’t want to give it up,” Grimsley said. “Because with that kind of money, you need to know who you’re really dealing with. But he got that kind of money because I thought he was a good guy and he had to buy the products.”
An investigation by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office revealed that Stromas had an active warrant for allegedly falsely identifying himself as a contractor. On January 21, 2023, deputies arrested Stromas and charged him with that, and larceny of a person 65-or older.
WKRG News 5 searched Florida’s contractor database and other state records. Documents show Stromas has a suspended license, not as a contractor, but as a barber.
“I knew something wasn’t right,” Grimsley said. “Even before then I was having anxiety attacks. I was with my sister and I was telling her something ain’t right.”
WKRG News 5 has also made multiple attempts to get Stromas’ side of the story. He told us, “I’ll contact you when I’m ready,” but has not said anything else.
The Escambia County Contractor Competency Board advises folks to check out the person they’re hiring, before handing over any money.
You can verify the license of the contractor at myfloridalicense.com or myescambia.com.
Florida statute recommends 10% as a down payment. If a contractor accepts more than 10%, a permit must be obtained within 30 days after the payment is made.
Grimsley says the job was supposed to be completed by Thanksgiving 2022. She has since hired a new contractor to complete the remodel, and is currently living with her son. She has tried to remain positive.
“You just have to pray and just keep on going and stay positive,” said Grimsley. “I don’t try to be negative. At first I didn’t want anything to happen to him, and now I do because of the way he treated me. I don’t want this to happen to anybody else.” Said Grimsley.
Stromas is scheduled to be arraigned Friday.
More resources on contractor licensing can be found here.