98-year-old veteran claims contractor made promises that were never kept

A 98-year-old World War II veteran said he and his wife paid thousands of dollars to a contractor who never showed up to do any of the home-repair work they'd agreed on.

Peter and Mary Santo said it all started when they received a letter from Texas Windstorm Insurance-- an association established the state legislature in the 1970s to help protect coastal counties.

The letter said the couple's patio was not in compliance with state building codes and needed to be fixed, or they could risk losing their insurance.

The family said they posted on Facebook that they were looking for a contractor and was contacted by John Thomas of Thomas Custom Homes in Galveston.

Their daughter, Kella Dohring said her parents were relieved when Thomas said he could fix their patio to comply with state standards.

"I was thinking, ‘this man is a God send.' He knows what he's talking about and this is what we need and he says he can do it. And he says he knows the engineer," Dohring said.

"He looks my parents in the eye and says to my dad-- he says, ‘I promise I'm going to take good care of you.' To think that he just looked at him straight and lied, knowing what he was going to do," Dohring continued.

Dohring said after his first meeting with her parents, Thomas crafted a contract and quoted them a price for materials to be paid up front.

She claims he proceeded to show up unannounced to their house to "check on some things," but never did any actual work. Instead, Dohring said the price quotes started getting higher, as Thomas told the elderly couple he could renovate their back door and claimed to have found mold between their windows.

"He's like we have to rip the entire brick down. And I'm thinking in my head like, ‘how did we go from fixing a patio to doing the entire house?'" Dohring said.  

There have been other similar complaints online. Thomas Custom Homes currently has an "F" rating on the Better Business Bureau's website.

Additionally, hundreds of people have also commented on a Dohring's Facebook post about Thomas in a neighborhood forum.  

Nearly three months later, the family's filed a report with Galveston Police, accusing him of stealing roughly $7200 from the 98-year-old World War II veteran and his wife.

"It's unbelievable. I've lived so long and I never thought I'd be a victim," Santo said.  

For the third Monday in a row, Thomas apparently told the Santo family he'd pay them back. He also agreed to an interview with FOX 26 to tell his side of the story. But ultimately cancelled on both.

"It's not about the money. I think he's a dangerous man for the elderly people," Santo said.  

Dohring said she was recommended to Thomas by a mutual friend. She said she vetted him by looking at his website, and believe him to be an honest man.

Thomas was not available when FOX 26 called him multiple times on the phone Monday. Instead, his family said his attorney has instructed him not to speak.