Woman says landscaper ran away with money, left unfinished yard

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Oct. 1, 2015)-- Fall weather means bonfires in the backyard, but one south side woman told FOX59 she won't have that this year, because a landscaper ran away with her money.

Mary Widick hired Curt Palmer with Grand Design Lawn and Landscaping to create her dream backyard. It was going to be a place where her family could visit and have cookouts. She wanted a yard complete with a flagstone patio and a fire pit.

Her home is her pride and joy, and Widick said she worked overtime to put the money into her home.

"I spent two years saving money, (I) had a plan. He came out, said he could do it.”

At first, she admits, something seemed fishy.

"He told me to leave the deposit check under my front porch rug, which I refused to do," she recalled. However, after calling his references, she agreed to hire him. "I gave him the deposit $4500. He immediately walked to my bank and cashed the check.”

The work started soon after. Palmer's crew took out the grass and dug a hole where the fire pit would go. The weather turned rainy, so they stopped working. But then, Palmer said, they never came back.

That was June. Now it's October and she said she's gotten nothing but excuses for months.

"He goes, ‘I’m dying. I’m gonna be dead in six months.’ Here’s me, seriously, I said, 'I don’t care. I want my money back.'”

She said Palmer won't even return her calls. So FOX59 called up Palmer to find out where the money was.

“Uh, well, her money is supposed to be returned to her already," Palmer said.

When asked where it went, he replied, "That’s a good question."

"She’ll have it in less than one week,” Palmer later said.

Widick said she'll believe it when she sees her money.

"I’ve cried. My son found me on the stairs one day in tears, because it meant a lot to me to be able to do this,” she explained. "This is really sad to me.”

Widick said she has already gotten the Indiana Attorney General involved and they have sent Palmer a letter. If her money is not returned, she plans to file a civil suit.