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Contractor absconds to Texas owing hundreds of thousands of dollars to St. Louisans

FRISCO, Texas - On a windy morning in Frisco, Texas, progress was in motion on a case we’ve followed for a year. More than 600 miles from St. Louis, the chorus of consumer complaints was almost audible in the quiet confines of this north Texas neighborhood.

Contractor Paulo Lee owes St. Louisans hundreds of thousands of dollars.

You’ll hear from him shortly. First, his victims.

“It’s almost like a crusade I have, so no one has to deal with him,” said Terri Mauldin.

Mauldin alerted us to Lee last year after spending three years trying to get him to finish fixing her fire-damaged Glencoe home.

“Please finish my home. I just want my home finished. You’ve been paid plenty of money to finish my home,” Mauldin said.

Since our 2017 report, accusations have piled up alleging Lee took the money then took off without finishing projects. A judge ruled Lee owes St. Charles County-based Arrowhead Building supply nearly $200,000.

“Paulo Lee is a criminal. He’s a coward that hightailed it. He had issues here. He made promised to people in the state of Missouri,” said attorney and Missouri State Representative Nick Schroer, who represents Arrowhead Building Supply in its case against Lee.

“We’ve reached out to him continuously. He’s cut off all communication with us.”

When Lee’s business went south, he moved south to Frisco, Texas. Fox 2/KPLR 11 confronted him outside his home.

“It looks like you have a beautiful house here, a very nice truck. Some people might look at this and think you’re living a bit out of your means for someone who owes a lot of money to people. How would you respond to that?” asked Colombo.

“This is my old truck and I need a truck for work. This is a rental property. I don’t own this property. I believe I’m doing the best I can here. I’m not living a luxury life here,” replied Lee.

Lee said he’s working more than 90 hours a week selling for a roofing company and scoffs at the idea he fled St. Louis.

“There was no intention to take somebody’s money and not work. I was working, but a lot of things collapsed at the same time and I was forced to come here and find different revenue to make an effort to pay them back. Please believe me. Please believe me, Mike,” Lee said.

“I think it’s ridiculous. He’s saying he’s trying to make money to pay us back in Missouri or anybody he owes money to. And two, that he can’t get work here in the state of Missouri,” Schroer said.

Legislatively, Schroer said he’s working to gather support among his colleagues in Jefferson City to better protect Missouri consumers.

“What is the best way we can help these consumers? Punish the people who are doing this to the victims and actually do it without making it a police state,” Schroer said.

''What I pray is that he doesn’t do this to another family, another widow, another human being. Not just in Missouri, but the United States,” Mauldin said.

Sadly, it seems an act of God might be the only way Paulo Lee makes an act of contrition.

“That’s what you’re telling the people in St. Louis you owe money to? You’re working to pay them back?” asked Colombo.

“Yes,” Lee replied.

We should note that we’ve received no complaints about Paulo Lee so far from anyone in Frisco, Texas.