Article Courtesy of The
Tampa Bay Times
By Mark Puente
Published June 24, 2017
SEMINOLE — For weeks, Glenn Holland, 67, crawled out of bed before the sun rose
to look for a dead man.
The retiree and
Vietnam veteran spent several weeks on stakeout in his Ford
F-150. Under the cover of darkness, he waited outside the
home of a man he was told had died in a car crash.
For weeks, neither the Corvette, Hummer or pick-up truck in
the driveway moved.
Holland nearly gave up. He waited one last time. It was 4
a.m. on a Friday in March.
Four hours later, the deceased walked outside and jumped
into the truck.
Adrenaline shot through Holland. His heart started pounding.
His mind raced:
Could Marc Anthony Perez be alive?
was. The contractor who Holland said ripped him off, then faked his own death to
get out of paying him back for a botched renovation, who left Holland and his
cancer-stricken wife with nowhere to live, was still among the living.
"I want to get my hands on him," Holland recalled thinking. "The man cost us
$13,000. He faked his death to avoid paying us. I thought about driving up to
him and jumping out."
He didn't. Instead, he sued him.
• • •
Glenn Holland spent three decades as a municipal employee in Erie, Penn. Judith
Holland, 66, spent 28 years owning and running a tavern in the town on Lake
Erie, nestled between the Ohio and New York borders.
In recent years, the couple rented a Seminole home each winter to avoid the
treacherous snowbelt. They grew to like Pinellas County and last year decided to
buy a home here. In March 2016 they paid $125,000 for an 845 square-foot home in
the 55-and-older community of Tamarac By The Gulf.
The couple expected a smooth transition from Pennsylvania to the Sunshine State.
But their new home needed work: a new kitchen, a remodeled bathroom, duct
repairs, a new hot water heater, etc.
They hoped to hire a contractor to complete the work while they were in
Pennsylvania. And then they found Perez.
They spotted him working in the neighborhood, the Hollands said, and asked to
view his projects. Neighbors praised the quality of Perez's workmanship. The
couple met Perez to talk about hiring him.
Glenn Holland noticed Perez identified himself as a veteran on his business card
and thought: A veteran would never rip off another veteran.
Perez, 52, said he had the proper licenses to do the job, according to Holland.
A gentlemen's handshake sealed the deal. The contract was officially signed in
March with Marc Anthony's Repair Service. The Hollands wanted to move in by
December. That's eight months to finish the work. The lawsuit said it should
have been done in three.
They gave Perez a key in April and headed back north to Pennsylvania.
Two months later, there were already problems.
• • •
Perez sent the couple receipts and said he was almost finished with the job, the
Hollands said. He was to be paid thousands of dollars in fees.
But Judith Holland visited on July 15 and said she didn't see much work done.
Perez made excuses, the lawsuit said, and said he had run into problems. He
vowed to get back on schedule.
Then the rains came. Perez said he needed $950 to repair leaks from a tropical
storm and to replace an electrical outlet, the couple said. They objected, but
Perez said he already did the work. He demanded the money. They paid him.
The Hollands visited in October. What they saw devastated them.
After six months, the kitchen still wasn't done. The "job was being performed
very slowly and poorly," the lawsuit said. "Perez assured them he would correct
the poor workmanship."
Perez vowed to finish the job by mid-December. But he kept demanding more money.
Then in October, the couple was dealing with something far more serious: Judith
Holland was diagnosed with cancer.
Around Thanksgiving, Perez texted Judith to "wish her the best." He said all he
had left to do at the house was install a water line for the fridge.
Move-in day was Dec. 14. The Hollands arrived at their supposedly renovated
"I knew we were in trouble," Glenn Holland recalled.
Within seconds, they realized they could not live there. The kitchen cabinets
were hung crooked. The bathroom tile had gaps. The walls were not level. The
house was in shambles.
Judith Holland wanted answers. She said she texted Perez at 12:36 p.m.
Fourteen minutes later, she got a text back.
"This is Marc's daughter, dad passed away on the 7th of December in a car
• • •
The text had shaken the Hollands. They felt terrible for Perez's family.
But they also needed a place to live. They rented a nearby home. They hired more
contractors to fix the defects in their future retirement home.
The news got worse. Those contractors told the Hollands that Perez wasn't
licensed. They also said the work he had performed violated minimum building
codes, that he never obtained any permits. Those emergency repairs Perez
demanded payment for? They were never done.
The Hollands moved into the rental. Judith Holland's cancer spread. She
underwent radiation treatments in February and March. They started to talk to
neighbors about Perez.
The Hollands never found an obituary for him.
They were driving to the beach on a Sunday when Judith Holland said she
remembered where Perez lived in Indian Rocks Beach. They drove past the house
and thought nothing of the packed driveway. They told the neighbors about the
Then the entire neighborhood started snooping for information about Perez.
One day a neighbor stopped by while Glenn Holland was working in the yard and
said Perez was still alive. Holland didn't want to believe it.
"I never thought someone would go to that extreme to rip someone off," he said.
• • •
That's when Glenn Holland started his stakeouts outside Perez's home.
He said he didn't want to escalate the situation. He wanted his money back but
didn't know where to go for help. So he went to everybody.
He filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board,
which is supposed to catch unlicensed contractors. But he said the agency, which
has had its own troubles of late, never responded. The Pinellas County Sheriff's
Office told the couple the dispute with Perez was a civil matter.
They had no other options. So they filed a lawsuit in Pinellas-Pasco circuit
court on June 1 accusing Perez of misrepresenting himself as a licensed
contractor when he agreed to the job.
It cost the Hollands $15,000 to fix their house. Meanwhile they lost the $7,600
they had already paid Perez. They're seeking more than $15,000 in damages.
The Tampa Bay Times contacted Perez. He returned a reporter's text on Wednesday.
"This is Marc Anthony Perez," he said when he called back. "You texted and
called about a remodel job. What kind of work do you need done?"
The reporter explained that he was calling about the Hollands' allegations and
"I think you have the wrong number," Perez said. Then he hung up.
The number no longer worked as of Thursday.
• • •
Holland said he blames himself for not doing a more thorough check of Perez,
even after neighbors provided glowing recommendations.
"You always hear about these things happening, but you never think it would be
you," Holland said. "It frustrates me that there are people like this."
The county's Consumer Protection Office said Wednesday it is investigating the
Daniel Moody, the Hollands' attorney, has been a construction lawyer for 33
years. He said his clients' ordeal is an example of how even a minor project can
turn into a severe hardship. He warned homeowners to never pay for anything
until the work is completed.
What happened to his clients, he said, is pretty typical of unlicensed
"Other than faking his own death," Moody said.