KENT COUNTY, Mich. (WZZM) -- Several customers in West Michigan say a local mechanic is taking their money and not performing the service.
"I can't even get him to return a phone call," says David Belcher. He wanted an engine built for his classic truck he plans to race. "It's just something I've always wanted to do. As a kid, I always had muscle cars."
Belcher found a mechanic online named Mike Hill, his business is Elite Engines. The two met at Hill's most recent location in Byron Center. "He said, well, I got a brand new one sitting right here, in the crate."
Belcher agreed to buy the new engine block and traded some parts he already had, for the labor. "I gave him a transmission and my old engine block." Belcher also put $1,000 down.
That was in December of 2012. Belcher says over the next four months, Hill came up with excuses as to why the job wasn't done.
Ronda Johnson of Grand Rapids had a similar story. In July 2012, she paid Hill to put a new engine in her car. "He told me he needed $1,000 down to get started." Over the next two months, she paid an additional $1,100. In October, she was fed up and tried to pick up her car, but says Elite Engines was gone. "And then from here, my car disappeared. He moved everything out," said Johnson.
Johnson sued Elite Engines and in January Hill failed to appear in court. A default judgement was issued for just over $8,000. "My vehicle gets stolen along with $2,100 that I put down to have it repaired," said Johnson.
Johnson recently filed a vehicle theft report with Wyoming Police. There are also two other lawsuits against Elite Engines in Wyoming. One of the cases is still pending; in the other, Hill showed up but lost the case. A judgement was entered against him for just over $4,800.
Since 2009, Hill has moved his business at least four times; Kentwood, two locations in Wyoming, and now Byron Center. It's frustrating to Belcher. "Well, what? We just wait until he leaves town or goes someplace else again?"
Shortly after WZZM 13's interview with Belcher, Hill called him back and the two agreed to meet. We watched from across the street. As soon as we got out to confront Mike Hill, he ran inside the building. Belcher got his engine block. "But he still owes me all the internals. crank shaft, pistons, like I said. I will be amazed if I see it."
A few weeks later, Belcher still hadn't received his parts. He's frustrated because the racing season is about to begin. "I put my faith in somebody and it's what ya' get. Thank you Mike Hill," said Belcher.
According to the Michigan Secretary of State's office, Hill is a licensed mechanic, but he does not have a licensed repair facility.