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Tree-trimming deal ends with theft charge

A Johnson City man was arrested on a warrant charging him with theft over $500 after a complaint claimed he took 1A-JuniorTapppayment for tree-trimming work more than a year ago but did not return to do the job.
Junior Tapp, 59, 611 Lamont St., Johnson City, was arrested Tuesday on a warrant originally issued in March after two Carter County residents filed a complaint with the Carter County Sheriff’s Department one year ago.
Neighbors Betty Hodge Porta and Paul Buck contacted the CCSD on May 17, 2013, after they said they paid Tapp, doing business as Best Around Tree Service, to cut down trees on their adjoining property.
According to the warrant, the neighbors paid Tap $350 on March 3 and on March 5, for a total of $700 with the promise the work would be completed on March 6, 2013.
The warrant also stated Tapp had been hired to cut other trees on the property on March 2 and 5, 2013, and had been paid in cash for the work.
For the case in question, the warrant quotes Porta saying that Tapp told her on March 5, 2013, he could cut the additional tree then for $700, but if she waited until the leaves came out, it would cost $1,200. On March 5, Porta and Buck reported paying Tapp $700 for the final tree, which he was to return and take down within the week.
Porta said that after a period of time passed, she called the numbers on his business card several times and got no answer, or the phone was answered by someone other than Tapp.
The warrant states it was about a week later when Tapp called Porta and said he had “been sick with a bad back, had heart trouble, had been in the hospital, was caring for an elderly father and that his doctor would not release him to work, however, all the time Tapp had been cutting trees elsewhere.”
The neighbors waited for a few weeks for the work to be completed before contacting the sheriff’s department. Porta reported her last contact with Tapp was on May 16, 2013, when he returned a call to say he had been busy.
Porta and Buck first requested assistance on May 17, 2013. They told an officer at the time they would like for the tree to be cut or for the money to be refunded instead of pressing criminal theft charges.
According to the warrant, the CCSD attempted to call the number on Tapp’s business card and spoke with a female who said she would pass along the message and try to have him contact Porta and Buck.
On Feb. 5, 2014, Porta contacted the CCSD again and advised she had “given up hope” for the job to be finished or to receive a refund, and wanted to file a complaint of theft over $500 for the $700 cash payment on Tapp. A warrant was issued against Tapp on March 3, 2014, and he was given a court date of April 7, 2014.