Business owner left with unopened cigar lounge after being scammed out of $26,000

Jacksonville, Fla. A Westside businessman is accusing an electric company of taking money from him without completing the work.

Andrew Messiana was supposed to open a cigar lounge called Tobacco Galore at least nine months ago, but his plans were inadvertently put on a hiatus when Covenant Electric ended the service.

Messiana said he brought in a 70-year-old building near the corner of Normandy and Lenox avenues to convert it into an expensive cigar lounge. He said he hired an architect who came up with the design, and then he hired licensed electrician Leroy Bass, owner of Covenant Electric—based on a referral from a friend.

To bring the building up to code, Bass had to install the new electrical system, which is required before Messiana can open for business. He paid the company $26,000.

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Messiana said that Bass began work in October 2021, but on November 12, 2021, the electrician told him he had other work that needed to be completed, so he stopped working in the cigar lounge and returned to Messiana. Said he would get his assistant back. with him.

Messina said that since then, Bass did not show up to work until August 29 of this year. Then, they were told it would be another four weeks of work to get everything electrical up to code.

“In a span of three weeks, he asked for more money. I was trying to figure out why,” Masina said.

Then, Messiana said about five weeks ago, the bass came back and set only a meter.

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,[He] Everything left out and went and that was the last time I saw him,” Masina said. “He doesn’t answer my phone calls. He doesn’t reply to my messages anymore.”

Messina said she felt like Bass had betrayed her.

According to the Better Business Bureau, Covenant Electric is on its radar. Two complaints were filed against the company prior to this incident. The most recent complaint was when a landlord complained that work on an electrical system was unable to pass a city inspection after it began in 2020 but was never completed.

According to the Florida Department of Business and Regulation, several complaints were filed against the electric company and its owner, Bass, before 2010.

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Tom Stephens with the BBB explains the best way to avoid these problems.

“Do your homework outside of those referrals. Google the name of the company with the word ‘scam’ or ‘review’ behind it and you’ll see if something happened; it would be somewhere on the web,” Stephens said.

Stephens also suggests going online to see if the contractor has a license and to see if the license is in force. In addition, Stephen asked to contact more than one contractor to find out which one is right for the project.

News4JAX spoke to Bass, and he denied any wrongdoing.

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