Damaged house on Emerson Av. N.


Hennepin County’s top prosecutor says he’ll throw the book at illegitimate contractors who target victims of the May 22 tornado in north Minneapolis.

“Nothing offends me more than greedy, heartless con artists preying on people who are tired and desperate because their homes were ripped open by a tornado,” County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a statement.

So far, Freeman’s office hasn’t received any solid reports of post-disaster swindles. But here’s a common example: “fly-by-night” operators that pose as legitimate contractors but disappear with your down payment.

If you are the victim of a scam, contact your local police department — and let Whistleblower know about it, too.

Meanwhile, neighbors on the hard-hit block in the McKinley neighborhood are wondering what will happen to a former rental property deemed uninhabitable by the city even before the tornado. The house, at 3738 Dupont Av. N., is owned by Erik Laine, whose failure to pay water bills resulted in threats by the city to shut off his water. But the water wasn't turned off until after a pipe burst and flooded the house, resulting in an icy waterfall that I wrote about in January.



Laine came to Whistleblower's attention again this week, when my colleague Randy Furst learned that he was co-owner of a construction company seeking tornado repair business. In his story describing the backgrounds of four contractors, Furst reported how Laine is the subject of a lawsuit alleging unethical practices in his previous construction company. Laine denied the allegations.



Here's how 3738 Dupont looks after the storm. The frozen cascade melted long ago, but city water is flowing once again. This time, it's from a rupture under the street. No word on when that will be fixed. The tree pictured above is actually lying on the roof. Whistleblower will check back to see what happens to the place.


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