FOX 29 Investigates: Home Not Repaired After Fire

A local family will face the holiday season in search of a new place to live devastated and uncertain if they'll recover from the loss of their family home.

FOX 29 Investigates has learned police are investigating this contractor nightmare with a hook. Investigative Report Jeff Cole has the story.

If you are looking for a home with a fabulous view of the deep, blue sky 1310 North 29th. Street, is for you. But that's all it has to offer.

"We're standing in my home," Storm Hughey said.

"This is your home?" Cole asked.

"This is literally my home," she said.

"Your home looks like someone dropped a bomb in it," Cole said.

"Yes," answered Hughey.

The structure is a shell of the dwelling where Storm and Anthony Hughey once lived with their four children. A fire drove them out.

But now, due to the work of a contractor, claim the Hugheys, the brick walls are exposed and crumbling. The back of the first floor is blown-out, and climbing the stairs is an adventure in open-air living.

"And if you want some sunlight, you just come on up," said Jim Barksdale, the Hugheys' project manager.

He put the chance of it seeing the wrecking ball at "80 percent."

"If it has to go through a winter season, it will have to come down," Barksdale said.

"You think it's 80 percent that L&I will order this thing knocked to the ground?" Cole said.

"Right now, yes," he said.

Storm Hughey told us, "I can't wrap my mind around this. I just become extremely emotional and angry" over what she says that contractor did.

What did he do? Take their money and run, claim the Hugheys. Who did it? An area contractor with family ties to an internationally known record producer. What's the bottom line? A family's home has disappeared.

Meet Lawrence Threadgill. He's the owner of Home Perspective LLC, a general contracting company with Philadelphia, Pa., and New Castle, Del., addresses.

In June, the Hugheys signed with Threadgill's company a contract that called for demolition and remodeling of their home.

It also reads, "Homes Perspective will be responsible for pulling all permits needed for the work."

Total cost of the job was about $183,000, say the Hugheys. They slapped down $60,000 in a down payment to Threadgill.

"We felt a sense of relief that this person really had our back," Storm Hughey said.

What sold them on Threadgill? Two things: a recommendation to use Threadgill from a prominent city architect, who tells Fox 29 he believed Threadgill had the proper permits to work; and Threadgill's wife, Tamelia Hinson. She's seen in pictures on her Facebook page with Threadgill during their 2015 wedding around the time work began on North 29th Street.

Hinson is the step-daughter of Kenny Gamble. Yes, that Kenny Gamble, Philadelphia's famous songwriter and record producer turned philanthropist.

"His daughter literally sat down with us, went over the contract, went over ideas," Storm Hughey said.

Gamble says there's no connection between him, his interests and his son-in-law's contracting business. Public records, we've viewed, also show no link.

The music mogul looks to be caught in some name- or place-dropping, because the Hugheys say they signed their Home Perspective contract with Threadgill and his wife inside 1503 Christian Street. The three-story brick is owned by Salaam Enterprises Inc., a real estate firm owned by Kenny Gamble with his wife, Faatima, who's also listed as president.

And it's where we spoke with the legendary record producer.

"So, the Gamble name is almost golden in the city of Philadelphia, and you thought certainly his son-in-law and daughter would do right by you?" Cole asked.

"Exactly," answered Anthony Hughey.

"And did they?" Cole asked.

"Not at all," Hughey said.

Gamble said he knew nothing of the signing, and Home Perspective does not have an office here.

When Threadgill began work at North 29th Street in June, he was doing it under a "make safe" permit, issued to a prior contractor by Philadelphia's Department of Licenses and Inspections.

The permit allowed for replacement of "damaged joists" and similar work.

"That wall has been torn out," said Barksdale, the project manager," so that it has seriously compromised the structural integrity of the back of this building."

But when Threadgill knocked-out the back wall, tore off the roof and began to rebuild it in a plan to expand the house, he found big trouble.

An L&I inspector returned and issued violations for work that had gone well beyond what the permit allowed.

In fact, L&I Chief of Staff Beth Grossman tells FOX 29 it has no record that Homes Perspective obtained any permits for the job.

Remember, in his contract Threadgill commits to pulling all permits needed for the job.

"So, from what you were told, L&I found Threadgill and his people working here illegally and stopped him?" Cole asked.

"Stopped him, yes," Storm Hughey said.

That was back in July. The Hugheys say they haven't seen Lawrence Threadgill or their $60,000 since.

But we've seen the contractor.

"When you get off the phone, can I talk to you quickly?" Cole asked him.

We spotted Threadgill outside his Delaware home on the very day he was questioned by city police.

"What can you tell me about it?" Cole asked. "I know that you were interviewed today by law enforcement in the city of Philadelphia. What can you tell me about what happened there?" Cole asked.

"It's being handled by my attorney," Threadgill said.

"No, I understand it is, Lawrence, and I know that you'd want your lawyer to talk, but how did the roof get off there, Lawrence?" Cole asked.

"Because we were asked to by the owner to do that," he answered.

"Lawrence, did you have any permits? Lawrence?" Cole followed-up, as the contractor drove off.

FOX 29 Investigates has learned Threadgill was interviewed by a detective in Philadelphia's Central Detectives unit last month.

A source says he handed police a document stating the architect was responsible for obtaining all the permits, and L&I had given him verbal approval to move to the next stage of work. That investigation continues.

Meanwhile, a few weeks ago, a group of men gathered on the sidewalk on North 29th. It was the opening of bids to knock down what's left of Storm and Anthony Hugheys' home.

Fearing danger to the community and out of money, the couple had it knocked down.

"This is our home. It's our home, Jeff. And now it's going to be rubble. We have nowhere to go," Storm Hughey said.

Threadgill's lawyer did not return a call for comment. In a letter to the Hugheys' representative, she accused them of harassing Threadgill and his wife rather than working to resolve the dispute.

The Hugheys say Threadgill has offered to return $30,000 if they commit not to sue. They say they can't do that because they're paying a mortgage of $1,200 a month for a hole in the ground, Cole reported.