A warning from police in Enfield.
Many have reached out about a so-called backyard mechanic and his empty promises. Police tonight are telling the Troubleshooters if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
“I feel upset. He’s doing this to a lot of people in Enfield, and it needs to stop!" Melissa Benvenuto tells NBC Connecticut.
After being fixed improperly, Melissa Benvenuto brought her Nissan Pathfinder to Stateline Auto and Truck in Enfield to be fixed the right way.
We asked the shop’s owner, Seth Klase, for his independent, experienced opinion. He tells the Troubleshooters, “The most blatant thing I saw is the brake level sensor. The master cylinder here is completely empty, no fluid in here at all."
Benvenuto had been hauling her sons around in the SUV, in its current state since the Super Bowl.
Klase added, "Very dangerous." Benvenuto blames Alfred "Freddie" Alzak Junior; a self-employed mechanic.
Benvenuto added, “He’s on the Enfield Forum. People raved about him and what a good job he is doing."
Many tell NBC Connecticut they found Alzak on Facebook, and considered his services cheap and convenient. Benvenuto said the first time she used his services, he fixed her heater.
Benvenuto added, “Had a good experience and everything went well. So, I asked him about my emissions because I wasn't going to pass. And he said that's because you have an exhaust leak for $200."
Melissa says she got her truck back three days later.
Melissa added, “So I get in car, the breaks don't feel right. I realize there's 500 extra miles on my car, so I go to work and I’m livid and texting him ‘what the heck’, my speedometer doesn't work!"
Klase told the Troubleshooters, “There was a lot of cutting and I'm not sure what the exhaust looked like before he started, what he considered to be done was far from it. It is undriveable in my opinion.”
Klase estimates repairs at 2-thousand dollars.
Chelsey Estrada says her experience with Alzak started well too.
Chelsey Estrada told NBC Connecticut, “He comes out takes a look at my brother's car and diagnosed the problem with the starter. So, I purchased a new one and he replaces the starter."
But, Estrada says when her brother got the car back, it immediately had transmission problems.
They went back to Alzak because, she says he quoted a great price. But the Honda sat in the back of this body shop for about a month, where Alzak was working on the car, on the side. He was also employed at the shop, but was terminated. Estrada eventually had the Honda towed to another mechanic.
Jill Konopka asks Estrada, “Did he fix the transmission? Chelsey Estrada responded, "No, he did not. Estrada added, “And I kept calling him checking for updates, that's when different stories came out, they sent the wrong transmission, took it out. Waiting for a new one."
Estrada demanded the six hundred dollar payment back. Freddie Alzak Junior returned a third of it.
And after the Troubleshooters started investigating, he returned the remainder.
At least three other customers filed police complaints totaling $1,800.00
Enfield Police chief Carl Sferrazza: "Nothing would make me happier than to get these people the money back for the people that got ripped off, but there are limits by statute and what we can do."
According to judicial records, larceny, burglary, drug and criminal mischief convictions have kept the 34-year-old in and out of jail.
But the police chief says these cases are different.
Chief Sferrazza: "We might have one we're looking at, but like I said the other three have either been withdrawn or we're not able to pursue because it's crossed the line from a criminal case into a civil matter."
What police say they are investigating Alzak for, is if he did any work on customers’ cars at his home without the proper town zoning permits.
The Troubleshooters spoke with Alfred Alzak, Senior, "I tell him you know Freddie please stop or call people and let them know. Don't leave people hanging, if you did something wrong it should be corrected." Alzak Senior says police have paid a visit as well. “All three said same thing, we're not here to arrest Freddie, and we’re here to tell him to stop doing what he is doing."
When we finally reached Alzak on the phone, we asked him about the problems with Melissa Benvenuto’s vehicle. All he said about her claims was, “It’s all false,” Alzak, Junior stated.
For the Estrada case, he insists he was still working on it but there was miscommunication with the company supplying the transmission.
As for the other complaints, Alzak Junior, replied, “I plan on doing the right thing. I did the best to my ability. All I did was try and help somebody and it grew out of hand. I had someone help me, and he messed up more cars than I could fix."
Alzak Junior insists he wasn't doing anything deliberately. He tells NBC Connecticut, he’s sold his tools and is no longer working on cars. He also claims he has been getting death threats, and that someone vandalized his truck. He didn’t file a police report. Customers we spoke to deny any involvement.
DMV Officials tell NBC Connecticut, the state does not license auto mechanics.
They advise you ask around about potential mechanics you might work with, if it sounds too good to be true, experts say it probably is.
They say customers should check out job references, professional certifications and graduation from auto trade schools.