Oklahoma charity says septic company defrauded tornado victims

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An Oklahoma charity says the company they hired to help tornado victims replace their septic systems did not follow the rules – after being paid thousands.

Now, a state agency is investigating the claims.

The mobile home of Linda Johnson, who lives south of Newalla, was hit by a tornado on May 20th, 2013.

She needed a new septic system and was helped by the Oklahoma Disaster Recovery Project (ODRP), which hired Septic Works and Designs.

ODRP eventually decided to contact the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality because they claimed the company’s owner, Clint Pearce, did not connect Johnson’s mobile home to the septic tank.

“I think it’s pretty sad,” Johnson said.  “I don’t know how people do people that way.  You should be more honest to people.”

ODRP says they also never received proper paperwork for several septic system jobs Pearce did throughout three tornado-ravaged counties: Canadian,
Cleveland and Pottawatomie.

The charity says Pearce was paid more than $70,000 to repair or install more than 20 septic systems.

“In one case, we discovered that he was paid for a system that he did not install,” DEQ spokesperson Skylar McElhaney said.

Septic Works and Designs is certified by DEQ, but their “notice of violation” sent to Pearce claims that at one location, sewage was discharging from
the sprinkler line coming from the septic tank – a health hazard.

“It is concerning when anybody gets taken advantage of, specifically tornado victims,” McElhaney said.  “They’ve already been through so much and
now they’re having to deal with this.”

Pearce told NewsChannel 4 on the phone that the alleged violations are a misunderstanding.

“Bottom line, I’m not out to do anybody wrong here,” he said.

Pearce said the paperwork for those jobs is missing because it was in his work truck, which was stolen.

He said he finished every project possible, and would never take advantage of the ODRP.

“They never paid me until a job was complete,” Pearce said.  “Those people are really good to me and they’re a true blessing to me, and so the last
thing I want to do is do them wrong.

“I’m not trying to weasel out of anything.”

Ted Maguire, Communications Manager of Long-Term Recovery of the May 2013 Storms, told NewsChannel 4 the charity would have no comment on an ongoing investigation.

DEQ says they may consider criminal charges against Pearce if these septic system violations are not resolved.

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