Unlicensed contractor in Colorado under investigation after asbestos spill

LITTLETON, Colo -- Colorado health officials are now investigating an unlicensed contractor following a major asbestos spill in a Littleton family's home that cost them nearly everything they own.

Also, despite what the Jim's Renovations truck states, Jim Johnson and his company are unlicensed, and the Better Business Bureau says he is not accredited.

"I don't want him to do this to anyone else," said Natasha Mitchell, who came forward with her family's story to warn others and soon learned that she was not alone.

For months, the kitchen in Rosalyn Vette's Littleton home has been a stalled construction zone, but she didn't start worrying about asbestos until she heard about the toxic spill at the Mitchell's house.

Both families hired Jim's Renovations and its owner to scrape their popcorn ceilings.

"He assured us that we didn't have to have its tests," said Vette. "It circulated through our whole house and they didn't do anything to contain it."

However, Colorado law requires testing for asbestos in jobs like those, or for it to be treated like asbestos by a trained, certified General Abatement Contractor.

In an email to Denver7, a Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) spokesman states that the agency has "initiated an investigation," confirming that Johnson and his company aren't certified by the state. Under state law, violators could face fines of up to $25,000 a day and criminal charges.

Alfonso Peters with Asbestos Professionals said that Certified Abatement Contractors use expensive equipment to clean out tiny asbestos fibers that, when disturbed, can cause serious health problems such as cancer and mesothelioma. Peters points out that asbestos can be found in everything from walls to ceilings to tiles, even in newer homes.

"We want to save money because we all work hard for what we got, but unfortunately, at the end of the day, it ends up costing you a lot more when you go with those kind of contractors," said Peters.

Fortunately, Vette said, the asbestos testing at her house came back negative, but the job was still shoddy, overbudget and incomplete when she finally fired Johnson, who she said has since sent threatening texts after she posted negative reviews on social media.

"I thought that my children had been poisoned," said Vette. "I just want him to stop lying to people and hurting them."

Johnson declined to be interviewed, but said on the phone that he didn't know Colorado required certification for asbestos removal and the state called him to tell him to stop.

"Trust me, this has hit me so hard I'm not ever going to touch a popcorn ceiling again," said Johnson, who said he would not give his insurance information to the Mitchells or the Vettes because he did nothing wrong. "I googled the process and followed it 100 percent and then some."

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