Workers waiting for contractor with history of crime to pay up

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by Adam Walser

WHAS11.com

Posted on December 22, 2009 at 6:03 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 22 at 7:14 PM

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More than a dozen construction workers say they've put in weeks of labor at an apartment renovation in Old Louisville, but they haven't been paid.

They've been working on the DuPont Commons at the site of the old DuPont Manual High School on Oak and Brook Streets.

The Lee Hensley Company, owned by Dustin Lee Hensley, is in charge of the renovation.  Hensley has hired crews to renovate the old building into 28 luxury apartment units which will range in price from $525-to-$725 per month.

While dozens of people have been working to complete the project, many tell us they're not getting paid.

No one in the group of workers knew each other before last month. Unemployment and desperation brought them together. 

“It's tough out here right now,” said Mike Edwards, who said he worked 76 hours for Hensley. “There's no jobs. especially in the construction trade.”

All of the new employees learned of promised opportunity the same way.  They read ads for skilled workers placed by Dustin Hensley on Craig’s List.

Charles Mudd answered the ad. 

“I went in knocked it out, did a good job. Everybody was happy,” Mudd said. “But when it was time to get the pay, there was no pay.”

Matt Myers said he worked 135 hours over three weeks and didn’t get paid a dime..

“I've been calling and calling leaving messages to the point where he eventually called me back and told me not to call anymore,” said Mike Edwards.

Dustin Hensley has been in trouble before.  In 2006, he was convicted of armed robbery and theft after allegedly stealing an SUV listed for sale in a classified ad at gunpoint then riding away on a motorcycle being sold by someone else.

Hensley also faces multiple civil lawsuits, including allegations that he billed the owners of two other Old Louisville properties for tens-of-thousands of dollars worth of building supplies they never received.

Mark Towner filed a lien against DuPont Commons after he says Hensley failed to pay him more than $1,000 that would go toward his kids' Christmas.

“My 7-year-old's probably not gonna believe in Santa,” said . “There’s nothing under the tree. What can I do?”

Hensley's girlfriend was at the apartments Tuesday, but Hensley wasn't there, or at the address listed as his residence.

We were finally able to reach him at a number we found on Craig's List.  He refused an on camera interview, but told us the workers weren't paid because they didn't finish the job, damaged his building or didn't provide the right paperwork.

A decision leaving at least one worker out in the cold.

“I'll be sleeping in my truck this Christmas,” said Mike Edwards. “This money was to pay all my back rent. My landlord worked with me up to that point and now, the money's not coming, so that's it.”

The construction workers we talked to say they plan to file liens and also pursue criminal charges against Hensley.

He is still on probation after receiving a 10-year suspended sentence for his robbery and theft conviction.

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