When EcoLife Home Improvements owner Dave Murray tried (and failed) to get his business licence back from the city's hearing committee Aug. 14, one of his unhappy former clients warned he was trying to do business under another company name: Maple Ridge Property Managements.
Lori Ferguson told the committee Murray was conducting business in the city under the Maple Ridge name, and hearing committee member Bill Leduc said the public should be made aware of the company.
The EcoLife owner is facing a slew of civil lawsuits and more than 20 charges of fraud, along with charges of theft and trafficking stolen property.
Sudbury.com has attained a copy of both a corporate profile report and a business names report from the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, indicating that Murray's wife, Pamala Facendi, registered the name Maple Ridge Property Managements on April 16, and was given an Ontario corporation number on the same day – less than a week after the city revoked EcoLife's business license.
While the couple has a name and a corporation number for Maple Ridge, no company is allowed to do business in Greater Sudbury without a business license issued by the city. In a combative interview with Sudbury.com, Murray maintained his intention is to work through the Maple Ridge company to complete jobs for his EcoLife customers, not to take on new contracts.
"We're trying to help these customers get it done, but the city won't let us," said Murray. "We opened up this company to try to go finish these jobs, that's what we did. We didn't do this to try to gain more business — we're trying to finish jobs."
Melissa Laalo, the city's acting manager of bylaw enforcement, confirmed Murray tried to obtain a business licence for Maple Ridge, but was rejected.
"There's no license issued," Laalo said. "A payment can be received through your standard application process, (but) making a payment for the application does not in itself mean you have a license, just that you've paid the application processing fee."
She said Maple Ridge's application was denied for the same reason EcoLife's licence was revoked: the company's business practices.
"It has to do with the integrity and honesty," Laalo said. "There's a section in our bylaw that provides staff the opportunity to revoke or deny a license (when there's reason) to believe the business will not be conducted with honesty and integrity."
That's not how Murray sees it. He says Maple Ridge was granted a licence by the city, but he was served with papers three weeks ago advising him Maple Ridge could not operate out of his home.
"They didn't deny it, they accepted it," said Murray. "It didn't get denied, it was accepted. Why don't you write down what EcoLife Dave Murray was trying to do with his wife, trying to take care of our customers and the city wants to see me sink? They don't care about the customers. Why don't you ask the clients who called the city and asked them to let me finish the job and the city said no?"
In spite of his ongoing legal battles, the lack of a business license and an angry former customer base, Murray has apparently transferred at least one EcoLife contract to Maple Ridge Property Managements.
One couple says they still hope to have their money refunded, as they say they have been put through the ringer by Murray and Facendi, and are out thousands of dollars with a laundry list of jobs that have not been completed. The couple has asked to have their names be left out of this story as they are still seeking to have their money refunded by Murray.
Earlier this year, before Murray's business license was revoked, the couple told Sudbury.com they entered into a contract with EcoLife for a number of home improvement projects. Some of the work was completed, so the couple commissioned EcoLife for more work on their home.
But, before the entire job could be completed, Murray lost his business license. However, the couple said, Facendi soon showed up at their door, saying the contract could be transferred to a new firm, Maple Ridge.
"The idea was that because [Murray] lost his license he wasn't going to be able to accommodate us or finish the work, so (Facendi) ended up getting Maple Ridge Property Managements, that I was led to believe was a legitimate business," the customer told Sudbury.com. "We were just hoping to get our work finished. So Pamala (Facendi) and Dave (Murray) came to us and transferred the work order from EcoLife to Maple Ridge.
"We agreed, at this point we're desperate. (The work) has not been completed to date."
It didn't take long before the couple learned Maple Ridge did not have a business licence and therefore could not legally do the work they had been contracted to carry out.
"That just aggravated the situation," said the customer. "We then officially asked for a refund of our money, but we haven't got it yet."
The couple said Facendi's response was that she would be touch with a lawyer, but the couple said they haven't heard from any lawyer on the matter as of yet.
"As far as the next step, we're really not sure," said the customer. "We're mulling it over, what can we do? Do we go to the police? I don't know for sure what to do."
The couple has also reached out to Consumer Protection Ontario for some direction.
They said they paid in full for the work that was to be done on their home, but now sit in limbo and are hoping that no one else finds themselves in the same situation.
"I'm hoping that we can get the message out there, I would definitely like to see him stopped and enough is enough," said the customer. "I'm not sure where this is going to lead us, but at this moment it's kind of almost a lost hope at this point. If nothing else it's to help other people not get trapped."