By Tim McNicholas

CHICAGO (CBS) — A North Side woman says she gave tens of thousands of dollars to a contractor, but no work has been done and she hasn’t heard from the man in years.

CBS 2 Morning Insider Tim McNicholas started asking questions, and learned she’s not the only one who says the contractor owes money.

Charleen Brown-Muir had big plans for her house in Rogers Park; so big that in May of 2018, she signed an $89,000 deal and gave $29,000 to a contractor upfront to start remodeling.

“We shook hands, and I said, ‘Young man, I’m counting on you to do this job for me.’ And he looked at me and said, ‘Yes, thank you for giving me the opportunity.’”

Two years later, she says she can’t even get a hold of that contractor; Dwayne Troupe of Troupe Construction. She said he hasn’t done any work, and never even came back after she signed the contract.

CBS 2 gave Troupe a ring, and he offered a wide range of explanations.

For one, he boasted of his other work and said “I’m known with the city of Chicago of completing projects.”

So we asked City Hall what’s up with Charleen’s house, and got emails back saying troupe committed consumer fraud and deceptive practices against Charleen, describing hers as an “egregious case.” Last summer, he was ordered to repay her $29,000, and was fined $70,000 by the city.

He hasn’t paid.

Charleen said, at Troupe’s direction, she even moved out some of her stuff to make room for the work.

“He told me to pack up,” she said.

She’s moved it back in, but the place is still in disarray.

Troupe said the problem stemmed from either Charleen or a family member of hers wanting to make changes to the project plan after the original contract was signed. But Charleen said that’s not true and she never tried to change the plans.

He said an architect who he paid for the project would vouch for him, but that architect didn’t defend Troupe. In fact, he said Troupe still owes him some money for his work.

“This gentleman is a crook; Didn’t have no intention of fixing the house,” Charleen said.

Charleen said Troupe told her he’d use the first $29,000 to tear down a wall, secure permits, and pay an architect.

She got some blueprints from the architect, but city records showed no work permits at the address.

“When I look around and see that he has the money that was supposed to do the work, it’s just crushing,” she said.

Troupe said he could send several documents that would show he wasn’t at fault, but later claimed his lawyer told him not to send them, and then he stopped responding to questions from CBS 2.

On the Better Business Bureau website, we found two other stories from people claiming Troupe took their money and didn’t do the work.

As for Charleen, she said her $29,000 check came from the life insurance policy of her son, who passed away in 2017.

“My son and I, we always talk about fixing the house. He always say, ‘Mom, when I have money, we gonna fix up the house,’” she said.

She’s still fighting, with the help of her lawyer, trying to get her money back.

Troupe also said, after buying materials and paying other workers, he only has about $5,000 left from the $29,000 Charleen gave him.

Asked why he couldn’t give that back to Charleen, he said it’s because she wouldn’t come to an agreement or understanding on the “construction phase of the project.”

Tim McNicholas