Texas Ranger investigating OG Asst. Chief Jaramillo

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Orange Grove Journal

A second report was filed with the Alice Police Department last Jan. 5 concerning two local contractors who allegedly accepted funds for a contract job they failed to complete.

And a Texas Ranger is looking into allegations of harassment and threats against one of the contractors, Frank Jaramillo Jr., the Assistant Chief of Police in Orange Grove.

Domingo Ortiz Sr. and Jaramillo, who were previously named in an APD report and a lawsuit filed two weeks ago in the 79th District Court, were named once again by Amando Benavides for similar alleged activityfor a construction job they reportedly did not complete on his home on Rose Drive.

Texas Ranger Rey Ramon confirmed on Wednesday afternoon he is currently conducting an investigation into allegations made against Jaramillo by his former employer, Ortiz.

"Right now I'm working on two murder cases in the area, so the investigation is on hold, but I am conducting an investigation into Ortiz's allegations against Jaramillo," Ramon said.

According to his police report, Benavides said he hired Ortiz's Foundation Repair business in the spring of 2006 to do some remodeling work on his home, which included roof work, plumbing and electrical work, and enclosing a patio and car port area.

Jaramillo was an employee of Ortiz's during that time, but has since left Foundation Repair and as of August 2006 started a separate repair business unconnected to Ortiz's business.

According to the police report, Benavides was asked to pay $9,700 up front for the work.

Benavides told police he became concerned when he found workers drinking beer in his back yard and cooking barbecue instead of doing the agreed-upon work.

The report states that after attempting to contact Ortiz and Jaramillo several times concerning the situation, Benavides had to hire other contractors to finish the work to his home, and some of the work that was done by Foundation Repair had to be redone by the second contractor.

Police advised Benavides the situation was a civil issue, and that he should contact Justice of the Peace Alonzo Villarreal in reference to the incident. No further action was taken by APD.

Benavides said no other company could match what the repair company was offering for the job, so he hired them.

"We fell into their trap," he said. "They dragged their feet on the project and overall, it was a bad experience. After we agreed to 21 days, Jaramillo said they didn't work weekends. They did some basic framing and sheetrock, but then they stopped showing up, and I told them they were taking too long. My wife was pregnant and it had already been two months since they started. I finally told Jaramillo that they needed to come in every day until they finished, or not to come back, they could consider themselves paid in full."

He said he then became nervous by Jaramillo's response.

"He said that we would be breaking a contract, and that they would put a lien on my house," Benavides said.

Benavides then went to city hall to see what could be done about the situation. He found that no permits had been purchased for the work done to the house.

"He told me the permits were included in the $9,700, and had told me over the phone that they had gone down to get the permits, but there were no permits on the project," Benavides said. "The city said they were not licensed in the City of Alice to do construction."

Eventually, Benavides had to rewire his home himself, but much of the work is still incomplete.

Susan Massey, the Complaints Specialist at the Corpus Christi Better Business Bureau (BBB), said the organization has received 10 official complaints filed on Ortiz's company within the last three years, the most recent in September 2006.

His business, not a member of the BBB, has an unsatisfactory rating from the organization.

On seven of those complaints, the BBB didn't receive a response from the company.

Massey said many of the complainants named Jaramillo.

"From the complaints, more often they said that Jaramillo was an agent for Ortiz. The checks were written to Jaramillo," she said. "Mr. Jaramillo has contacted the BBB and told us that he wasn't part of it and that he was just the go-between. He said he was given the checks and the money, which he would then give to Ortiz. We told Jaramillo that he needed to contact the police to tell them what was going on."

Jaramillo says Ortiz is to blame.

"The allegations are unfounded, and if you look up in the BBB Mr. Ortiz's work history, you will understand where the problem is," Jaramillo said Wednesday morning after conferring with his attorney about the recent report.

Ortiz contends Jaramillo was the one who tarnished his business's reputation by claiming to be the owner of Foundation Repair, convincing clients to sign checks over to him (Jaramillo).

"When I opened the door to Jaramillo, I let the devil in my business," Ortiz said.

Ortiz said in the case of the Vilma Gaza lawsuit filed two weeks ago, Jaramillo never arrived at the work site with the materials.

"I kept asking Frank, 'I'm here at the site, where are the materials?' and he said he had them, that they were coming, but we never got them," Ortiz said.

Ortiz alleges Jaramillo used his official peace officer capacity for harassment, allegations he reported to Ramon.

Ortiz said after Jaramillo quit, "He told me that if I made trouble for him that I would be sorry. Since then, I've been harassed by Frank and the Orange Grove Police Department. He follows me while I take my kids to school, and stalks me while I'm in town, following me around, and making a gun sign to me when I see him," Ortiz said.

After 21 years in the construction business, Ortiz said his reputation has been ruined by Jaramillo, and he said he is tired of the threats to himself and his family.

He confirmed he had been interviewed by Ramon concerning a case building around Jaramillo's alleged activities.

Ortiz, along with several former customers, have been interviewed in connection to the case, officials said.