CBS 58 Investigates: Is 'Pastor Dave' still scamming?

CBS 58 Investigates: Is ’Pastor Dave’ still scamming?

WAUKESHA COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A contractor who has scammed people across two states may be back to his old tricks.

It’s a story CBS 58 Investigates has tracked for years. David Ward claims to be a contractor and a pastor when in reality he’s a convicted felon, who’s taken thousands from unsuspecting customers

Ward got out of jail earlier this year. He has multiple convictions for theft by contractor across Wisconsin and Illinois dating back more than 20 years.

It’s a criminal past 58 Investigates uncovered, leading to Ward’s yearlong jail sentence in Waukesha County in 2018

Now Ward is out of jail and moved to Madison, advertising his contracting and roofing services to neighbors on NextDoor.

“I just was like oh my gosh, unbelievable,” said James Schwartz, who lives in the same neighborhood as Ward.

Schwartz saw Ward’s posts on the neighborhood social networking site and recognized him immediately. Schwartz worked with Ward in Fond du Lac, before Ward went to jail.

“I’m thinking somebody’s got to say or blow the whistle on this,” Schwartz said. “He’s just in an area where nobody knows him so he’s getting away with it.”

So far no one is saying they’ve been ripped off, but Ward is still on probation and one of the conditions of that probation is no employment as a contractor or subcontractor.

However, on Nextdoor, Ward Is offering to do garage additions, roof repairs and windows, saying his labor is “obviously less than you will pay for a big name contractor.”

58 Investigates has asked Ward for comment multiple times throughout the last several years and we asked him about the latest allegations.

“We heard you’re working as a contractor again? Doesn’t that violate your probation, sir?” CBS 58 Investigative reporter Kristen Barbaresi asked Ward. “Is it true you’re working as a contractor?”

Ward took off in his truck when confronted, driving the wrong way down a one-way street.

We reached out to the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, which oversees people on probation, to see if Ward is in violation. Late Friday afternoon, a DOC spokesperson told us they ”conducted an extensive investigation” and found Ward is not in violation because he’s posting on “’Next Door’ on behalf of his employer and that all monies and contracts were handled through Mr. Ward’s employer, not Mr. Ward himself.”

The DOC spokeswoman adds “Mr. Ward has been directed not to post services for his employer on the app in the future.”

58 Investigates spoke to one woman who got an estimate for an addition from Ward.

She says he did give her a business card with the company “Committed Contracting.” The name on the card was “Lee ‘Cowboy’ Ward.” She says he told her the addition would cost $42,000 and she had to pay him in cash. She says that was a red flag and didn’t hire him. She also tells 58 Investigate Ward spoke with a heavy southern accent—something we’ve never heard in court.

58 Investigates did speak with the owner of Committed Contracting before the DOC investigation. He told 58 Investigates Ward works for him, but he does not track every job Ward does and didn’t know if Ward was doing jobs independently.

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