MERRILL, Wis. (WSAW) Homeowners in three different counties want others to beware of a local contractor who they say took their money and never returned to finish the job.
48-year-old Raymond Marchel was arrested last year in January and remains out of jail on a $10,000 signature bond. Since his arrest, several felony and misdemeanor charges have been filed against him in Portage County.
In Marathon County, he is already facing felony and misdemeanor charges for similar cases and is due back in court in October for a Plea Hearing.
Residents in Lincoln County are asking the District Attorney’s Office to file charges, however, NewsChannel 7 is unable to confirm if any charges will be filed and await a callback from their office. In the meantime, Marchel is still allowed to contract work because he hasn’t been convicted of a crime.
“I came across Raymond Marchel through Facebook after I made a post about needing my roof and siding to be done,” said Stacy Cibulka who lives in Merrill. “His wife reached out to me and told me to contact him, so I did. He came by to give me an estimate, showed me some photos of work he completed in the past and I trusted him.”
Cibulka tells NewsChannel 7's Jerel Ballard, that she paid $21,600 for siding, windows, three-season room, new flooring, and a new front porch. None of these jobs were ever completed, some were started, but all of the checks are cashed. Cibulka is concerned if her house can withstand another winter in its current condition.
“He took down the rain gutters and didn’t reattach them. I ended up having to go back and reattach them myself because I started getting water in my basement,” added Cibulka.
Cibulka lives alone after her husband, who was a police officer, passed away three years ago. She believes that Marchel prayed on her vulnerability only to solicit more money and to leave her helpless in the process; but Stacy's story is not unique.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Portage County and obtained by NewsChannel 7, Jennifer and Ryan Joten from Stevens Point say they were ripped off by Marchel Enterprises LLC after the company was contracted to do work on their newly purchased home. Raymond Marchel is the owner and operator of the company which he runs with his wife and daughters.
“They reached out to us through Facebook,” explained Jennifer Joten. “We initially talked to them about doing work on our three-season room, and they said yes, we can do the work,”
After Marchel and his wife took a look at the home, a contract was drafted that required a down payment of $2,500. The Joten’s paid the amount and Marchel Enterprises started to get to work.
Due to an additional task that was asked to be completed, Marchel Enterprises drafted a new contract requesting an additional $15,000 as a down payment. Since the Joten’s wanted to see the project complete, they agreed to pay the larger amount.
“Because we just wanted to get the work done, and they had a schedule we could work with, we paid them the $15,000 to start and complete the project. We had no reason to believe this was a scam.”
After, Marchel cashed the check, the Joten’s claim he stopped showing up for work. They say he would use excuses like he had car troubles or would blame the weather. Over time very little was completed so the Joten’s asked for their money back and the receipts on purchased items for the project.
“We understand that there was some work done so we told them to keep the original down payment of $2,500 because that’s our fault,” said Joten. “But the $15,000 was for another project that wasn’t even started, that’s what we wanted back and we wanted to see receipts to see how much was spent on supplies.”
A few days later, the Joten’s were blocked from communicating with Marchel Enterprises. Jennifer had no choice but to contact the Stevens Point Police Department.
Marchel told law enforcement that he stopped communicating with the Joten’s because he was afraid things would “get ugly.” He also told police that because there was a change in the initial contract, he’s not required to pay back the $15,000.” Joten’s say that was never communicated and the contract between them fails to corroborate his story.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Agency (DATCP), Marchel currently has six complaints filed against him and his business.
In a statement issued to NewsChannel 7 regarding the investigation, a DATCP spokesperson, Jerad Albracht, said:
“We have received six complaints over the past two years regarding Mr. Marchel and are currently investigating the consumers' allegations against him. Beyond that, we are unable to comment at this time as it is an ongoing investigation.”
Jennifer tells our reporters that she started to feel alone and embarrassed that something like this could happen to her. All of the money she wanted to use on other renovations were now being used for lawyers.
The Joten’s then came across someone on Facebook by the name of, Stacy Cibulka, who also claims to be another victim by the Marchel Enterprise scam. Over the course of time, more and more alleged victims started to appear on Facebook, each one sharing their personal experiences they had with Marchel Enterprises. They decided to start a support group for the cause.
“I felt so relieved to know I was not alone in this,” stated Pam Betro from Plover. “We paid Marchel a down payment of $8,550 to redo the siding of our new home, paint, lay down fresh carpet and redo the windows, the job isn’t done and he stopped showing up.”
The Betro's sold their trailer home and moved into a house located in Plover to enjoy the rest of their retirement. Marchel Enterprises told them their construction project on their new home would be complete before Christmas of 2018.
“We thought that would be perfect for us,” shared Betro. “We had to go on a vacation so we thought once we get back into town, our new home will be complete and we could relax.”
But when they made it back, nothing was finished, the check was cashed and Marchel stopped answering their calls.
The Joten's, Cibulka’s and the Betro's are now working with the other victims through Facebook to determine how they can stop this from reoccurring.
Their hope is that once their cases are settled, they will be able to meet with legislators to help change the laws for Wisconsin contractors so that this doesn’t happen again.