INDIANAPOLIS — A small Indianapolis church raised money to fix its aging pews, but the business it hired to do the repairs walked away without ever doing the work.
Pastors James and Jean Morehead hoped to get the 70-year-old pews at Pasadena Heights Church of God reupholstered in time for Christmas services last year. Six months later, the pews remain taped together and unrepaired.
“Who would come and scam a church? We just did not believe that,” James Morehead said.
The church hired Carmel-based Penelopea Upholstery last August, paying around $3,700 up front. Owner Lisa Pleasant met with the pastors inside the sanctuary and said she would return a week later to do the work.
“She seemed credible,” James Morehead said.
After a string of text messages about health issues, the Moreheads never saw Pleasant again. They contacted the CBS4 Problem Solvers team earlier this year and filed a police report, since their check had been cashed and no work every completed.
“Honestly, had she just come to us and said, ‘I’m having some problems, could you help me?’ we would have done what we could to help her,” Jean Morehead said.
In late March, Marion County prosecutors charged Pleasant with a felony count of theft. A warrant has since been issued for her arrest in the case, which is pending in court.
The CBS4 Problem Solvers uncovered a concerning history of complaints against Penelopea Upholstery. Westfield resident Amanda Gibson hired the company last year to reupholster her dining room chairs, after she received a promotional flyer in her mailbox.
Gibson paid $75 up front and bought new fabric, which she handed over to Pleasant with the chair cushions. The project was supposed to take a week, but a month later Gibson said she was getting repeated excuses about delays.
“On October 5th she said, ‘I’m so sorry, my husband collapsed, he’s been in the hospital,'” Gibson said. “At this point, honestly, I just wanted my cushions back.”
After Gibson prodded Pleasant for weeks, she said someone finally dropped a trash bag in her driveway with the cushions and fabric inside.
“She did nothing. The fabric was still on the roll, the cushions were still stained and together,” Gibson said.
It took another customer, Anita DeWester, nearly a year to get her antique chair back from the company. DeWester paid $600 to have the family heirloom reupholstered for her daughter and ended up filing against Lisa Pleasant in small claims court.
“She had a lot of excuses, medical issues and all that,” DeWester said. “This went on for a long, long time.”
DeWester finally tracked down the chair, which had been abandoned in a Sheridan warehouse in dismal condition. She still has not received any money back, despite winning her small claims case.
“When I got (the chair back) I cried. It’s nothing about the money, it’s the fact that it was my father’s wedding gift to my mother in the 1940’s,” DeWester said.
The CBS4 Problem Solvers tried to get in touch with Penelopea Upholstery and owner Lisa Pleasant. Multiple phone calls and text messages were never returned. The company’s website remains active online, but the address it lists in Carmel is not valid.
At Pasadena Heights Church of God, hope remains that something can be done to restore the church’s faith and its spirits. The church has yet to repair the pews and will need to do additional fundraising to make up the nearly $4,000 loss.
“We would love for her to walk in one day, tears in her eyes, and say, ‘I’m sorry, would you forgive me, and here’s a check,” James Morehead said. “We thought the church was a sacred place and we still believe that.”
Before you hire a company, you can search for past complaints on the Better Business Bureau’s website at the link here and small claims or criminal cases through the state’s court record system at the link here. When searching state court records, try searching for the owner’s name, in addition to any company names.