CHEYENNE – Cheyenne Police are investigating a man accused by two residents of accepting money for home improvement projects and failing to complete them.
Cheyenne resident Nancy Hammer said she and her husband, Roger, paid Ernest Jaramillo $2,000 in December to install a furnace and air conditioner. The installation was initially scheduled for November, but Jaramillo made continued excuses as to why he hadn’t been able to do the job, Hammer said. Feeling as though they’d been scammed, Hammer filed a report with CPD in January.
Most recently, Jaramillo promised to do the installation on Feb. 18, Hammer said. The day came and went with no sign of Jaramillo.
CPD spokesperson Alex Farkas confirmed Jaramillo is currently under investigation by the department and that charges against him are pending. Farkas said the case was turned over to detectives, and two affidavits showing probable cause have been submitted to the city attorney’s office.
Jaramillo also appeared Feb. 25 in Laramie County District Court in a similar case, pleading not guilty to one count of felony theft. The charge stems from an August 2019 incident in which he allegedly accepted $2,500 from a Laramie County woman to replace a furnace and air conditioner, but “failed to complete the job or return the funds,” according to court documents.
The woman said she paid Jaramillo the $2,500 for the cost of the equipment, and they agreed he would receive an additional $1,300 upon completion of the project. After not completing the work, Jaramillo told the woman he “had already purchased the equipment and could not return the money,” according to court documents. The woman requested Jaramillo drop off the equipment so she could have someone else install it, but Jaramillo did not. He then stopped communicating with the woman.
Even though she had no idea about the charge against Jaramillo, Hammer said she was initially “quite apprehensive” about hiring him, as she didn’t know him well. Still, Hammer and her husband decided to give Jaramillo a chance because he was dating their neighbor’s daughter, and they had a good relationship with their neighbors.
Hammer said Jaramillo seemed “very knowledgeable” about furnaces, and her neighbor said Jaramillo was trying to get enough experience to be certified and have his own business.
Hammer said Jaramillo quoted them $4,700 for the job, and later said he needed “half down” to pay for the equipment. Hammer paid Jaramillo $2,000 on Nov. 24, according to a copy of a check and receipt provided to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.
Despite setting an installation date for early December, Jaramillo did not show up, Hammer said, eventually calling to provide excuses for being a no-show. On Dec. 11, Jaramillo arrived at the couple’s house, saying he did not yet have the equipment they’d paid for, but that it was on the way and was being upgraded for the trouble. At this point, Hammer said she didn’t know if they could trust what Jaramillo was saying and that she was “getting really scared.”
On Dec. 19, after not having heard from Jaramillo, Hammer said she looked him up online to see if he had another phone number listed that she hadn’t tried. One of the first results for “Ernest Jaramillo,” she said, was an article about the startlingly similar incident from August 2019.
“I about fell off my chair when I saw him in an orange-striped shirt that day,” Hammer said, referring to Jaramillo’s mugshot, in which he was wearing a jail uniform.
Throughout the ordeal, Hammer said it was difficult to maintain contact with Jaramillo because he called from several different phone numbers, and at one point said his phone was broken and he was using a friend’s.
After finally getting in touch with Jaramillo again, a Dec. 22 installation was scheduled. Jaramillo came to the house that day, but he pushed the installation date back to Dec. 28. The couple did not hear from Jaramillo on Dec. 28, and on Jan. 5, Hammer called the police to report the apparent theft.
Hammer said she’s speaking out because she wants to try and prevent Jaramillo from “scamming another homeowner.” She said she and her husband are unable to schedule an installation with another company until they recover the $2,000.
“I feel like I’ve really been cheated,” Hammer said. “I’ve been cheated out of the $2,000, and I’ve been cheated out of having had the job done for us that he’d promised he would do, and it’s obvious that he’s not going to do it now.”
The WTE tried three separate phone numbers associated with Jaramillo in an attempt to contact him, but did not receive a response.
Hannah Black is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s criminal justice reporter. She can be reached at [email protected] or 307-633-3128. Follow her on Twitter at @hannahcblack.