CLEVELAND – This is a story of frustration and possible crime, of dreams and disappointments, and of clients versus their contractors. News 5 investigators have been stalking business owners now facing crimes for answers, but so far we’ve only learned from our cameras how fast they can run away.
There are four different women with four different cases, but one big problem.
“I try not to think about it,” said Avon’s Annette Rawlings.
“Why should this happen to me? asked Landree Thomas from Berea.
“He kept telling us why he couldn’t come,” said Kitt Davis of Bedford Heights.
“Angry … very angry,” said Regina Weekes of Cleveland Heights.
They’re all mad because everyone bought kitchen cabinets from a Lakewood-based company called Complete Wholesale Direct (CWD).
“I didn’t receive any cabinets,” Rawlings said. She paid CWD nearly $9,500.
Thomas paid about $5,000.
“It has never happened that part of the order was received but never fully fulfilled,” Thomas said.
Davis had the same problem.
“So that was $7,500 for closets that we don’t have that (CWD) didn’t refund us,” she told us.
Weekes paid nearly $8,000 and said she never saw any products.
“Six to eight weeks came, six to eight weeks went. I got apology after apology,” Weekes said.
TWO CABINET CUSTOMERS USED CIP ENTERPRISES
And aside from the cabinets not showing up, Weekes and Rawlings had issues with their kitchen supplier, CIP Enterprises, and its owner, Michael Cipriano.
Both women acted.
“‘I’ll be there tomorrow… tomorrow… tomorrow… and he never showed up,” Rawlings said during recent testimony in Avon Lake Municipal Court. She sued Cipriano for omitting her.
“Mr. Cipranio is not here and have you had contact with him?” asked the judge.
“No,” Rawlings replied.
Weekes spoke to police about Cipriano, which resulted in a warrant for his arrest for theft. So we tracked him down.
“I have hired an attorney and I can give you this information,” he said while standing in a doorway.
We asked for the information of this lawyer.
“I have to call you later,” Cipriano said as he closed the door.
“Do you know there’s an arrest warrant out for you?” we asked through the glass of the door.
“I’ll take care of it tomorrow,” he said.
In fact, we found Cipriano in court the next day when he was charged. This case is not yet closed.
CWD OWNERS WITH CRIMINAL PROBLEMS
As for Complete Wholesale Direct, we found one of the owners, Ed Burant, in court, facing charges of theft related to his business. This case is pending.
Then there’s the other owner, Chris Cook, who had two warrants out for his arrest, both related to his businesses. We found him at his store in Lakewood.
“Hello Chris Cook?” we said to him.
“Yeah, that’s not me,” Cook claimed as he immediately walked out the front door.
“I think it’s you, sir,” we said, following him.
Cook walked further away from our camera.
“Why are you taking money from customers and not returning their money if you don’t deliver your products?” we asked, but Cook then started running. “Chris, where are you going?”
“I’m not Chris, man. you people are [expletive]-high. I’m not Chris,” he insisted while doing a full sprint away from our cameras.
Although he said he wasn’t Chris Cook, all of the women in this story confirmed that he was indeed.
JUDGMENTS AGAINST OWNERS OF CWD
In the end, Thomas received a nearly $70,000 judgment against Cook and Complete Wholesale Direct.
There have also been other judgments against the owners of CWD in the Berea and Rocky River Municipal Courts and in Cuyahoga County.
We’ve learned that Cook may now be using other company names, including Wholesale Cabinet Company. We have obtained a current offer for a potential buyer. This quote uses the address of Complete Wholesale Direct’s Lakewood building. Multiple sources said he uses Jason Local Houses on Facebook with various listings.
The former clients we spoke to wanted to warn you and want everyone involved in their renovations to be held accountable.
“I don’t see how people can go on like this and get away with it,” Thomas said.
“(They) just dragged me in, and I did it. I fell for it,” Davis said.
“I just want these guys to stop doing it,” Rawlings said.
“At the end of the day, I want people to know that if they google ‘Complete Wholesale Direct,’ this story will at least show up,” Weekes said.
GUARANTEES FOR KOCH STILL ACTIVE, CALL THE POLICE
Arrest warrants are still active for Cook, so if you know where he is, call your local police force.
We also contacted Burant’s attorney and heard nothing.
Rawlings eventually received a $3,000 judgment against CIP Enterprises and Cipriano. She said she saw no money from Cipriano. And Thomas, who won her judgment against Cook, said she wasn’t paid a dime either.