Mishawaka woman says she was recently ripped off by sketchy tree service

After seeing a NewsCenter 16 story Saturday night about a local tree service company with a sketchy past, a Mishawaka woman who’d also been ripped off by the company came forward.

Gary and Rick Franklin ran a business called Wayne’s Tree and Landscaping Service, but had their license revoked in South Bend last summer amidst a police investigation.

Now, the city says the brothers are continuing to approach South Bend residents and offer up their services.

It’s not the first time the brothers could be breaking the law.

Gary Franklin’s criminal past dates back at least two decades, where police say he scammed elderly residents out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in the mid-90s.

His brother, Rick, was just arrested last week on a charge of receiving stolen property.

According to WAVE 3 in Louisville, Rick was also busted for running a large-scale stolen property ring from Kentucky to South Bend in 2004.

Despite that, the brothers were allowed to do business in South Bend up until their license was revoked last summer.

Among the residents they allegedly scammed is Patricia Kaska.

She hired Wayne’s Plow Service, also operated by the Franklins, to plow her driveway in February.

During that time, she mentioned she wanted to have her trees trimmed.

An employee from Wayne’s said they also provided tree services and came back out in April to assess the situation.

“He came out and looked at the trees and he said all the trees have a great big crack down the middle,” Kaska said. “They're either going to fall on your house or the telephone lines. You know, I'm single, I just said, ‘Oh’.”

So, Kaska agreed to have the men cut the trees down and then replant new ones.

But, within one month, the new trees died.

“They said, ‘You have a year’s warranty, it’s really hot right now, so we’re not going to plant them.’ Gary kept saying we’re coming out this morning, we’re coming out tomorrow. Then, pretty soon he wouldn’t answer my calls.”

Now Kaska will have no leaves to rake this fall – because she never got her trees.

She says she's stumped – how can two men with a long history of ripping people off keep getting away with it?

“What you’ve done to people is wrong,” she said. “I can’t believe you’re still around here and I can’t believe they let you out of jail.”

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