A judge sentenced Pueblo contractor Joe Pacheco to 3 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections Monday afternoon.
Pacheco, the owner of JP Home Improvement pleaded guilty in July to stealing money from homeowners who hired him for renovation and remodeling projects.
He was charged last year with multiple felonies following a series of News 5 investigations into his business.
Chief Investigative Reporter Eric Ross also learned at the time he was ripping people off, he was also part of the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office volunteer dive team. The sheriff’s office cut ties with Pacheco shortly after we started asking questions about his position within the department.
Pacheco’s attorney asked the judge to sentence him to probation. Meanwhile, prosecutors asked for an 18-year sentence.
Instead, the judge decided to impose a 36-month sentence. After he’s released, he’ll be required to serve more than a decade on probation and pay restitution.
To-date, homeowners say Pacheco hasn’t paid them a penny of their money back. Victims we spoke with had hoped for a lengthier sentence.
“We really expected more than what he got,” homeowner Joyce Leri said. “We’ve been waiting 2 years and all he got was 3 years.”
Pacheco was taken away in handcuffs after the judge sentenced him.
KOAA news cameras were not allowed in the courtroom.
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Transparency report and frequently asked questions:
Question: How did this story develop?
Answer: Chief Investigative Reporter Eric Ross received a news tip that HomeAdvisor recommended an unlicensed contractor who took their money and never did the work he promised. Initially, we only had one victim. After further research, we discovered there were a handful of other victims in the Pueblo area who paid Joe Pacheco for renovation jobs he didn’t do. After our first story aired, we heard from additional victims and started building our case from there.
Question: At the time your news station started investigating Joe Pacheco, the owner of JP Home Improvement, was their a criminal investigation already underway?
Answer: No, and that was a frustration victims shared with News 5. At first they were told the case should be pursued in civil court. After News 5 Investigates connected the dots and found multiple victims had lost tens of thousands of dollars, we reached out to law enforcement and the DA’s Office. The matter was determined to be criminal in nature and a criminal investigation was opened. Criminal charges were filed and in order to avoid trial, Pacheco pleaded guilty.
Question: Why aren’t the victims satisfied with the 3 year prison sentence?
Answer: Victims expressed satisfaction in knowing that Pacheco will spend some time behind bars, but every victim we spoke with after sentencing expressed concern and dissatisfaction that he received a lenient sentence and could be out on the streets in 1.5 years after “good behavior”. The sentence was up to the judge, not the prosecutor. In fact, Patrick V. Jones, the head prosecutor on the case requested an 18-year sentence.
Editor’s note: The DA’s Office and law enforcement investigators on this case worked tirelessly on the Joe Pacheco case. News 5 Investigates does not have the ability to bring criminal charges against an individual, but we strive to work collaboratively with our law enforcement partners and DA to bring these types of issues into the spotlight so that the appropriate officials can determine whether enough evidence exists to file charges. If the DA’s Office wasn’t willing to prosecute this case, Pacheco’s victims would not have received any closure or justice.