John Spayde – Prison time

Jonathan Spayde, the owner of Landfare, has been sentenced to 366 days in federal prison for tax fraud. I am now also hearing from subcontractors about Landfare’s shady dealings with them. Namely, Landfare allegedly doesn’t pay their bills. Likely not a coincidence, Landfare offers no lien indemnification in their standard contract terms. If Landfare doesn’t pay a sub, that sub could put a lien on your property. Do you want to take that risk? I have reached out to a few of these folks and I hope they’ll write some guest spots or give me more information. It seems John had more shady dealings going on then just stealing from his business and the IRS.

Back to the story at hand. John was ordered to report to prison on October 16, 2018. He has since claimed a hardship case. He was granted an extension to report to the FCI Ashland facility on January 15 with no further extensions allowed.  You can read the granted motion here. 


As I have mentioned before, I am now working with a contractor who I adore. Two of the standard terms in their contract are called ACCOUNTING RECORDS and LIENS. These two sections of the contract protect me as the consumer.

ACCOUNTING RECORDS states that I have the right to request and inspect any receipts, books, correspondence, etc. related to my project. I can see and verify they actually bought the nails they said they did. Conversely, Landfare was never able to produce receipts for me and hoped I was satisfied with pictures of other materials that weren’t used on my site. How they thought that was acceptable accountability I’ll never know. (Here’s a picture of some nails we used on another project – we might have used something similar on your project). Seemingly they did indeed have something to hide and it caught up with them.

LIENS states that so long as I pay my bill, the contractors will indemnify me of any mechanics liens. This means, if they don’t pay a sub, if that sub puts a lien on my property, the contractor is on the hook to make the lien go away.

Protect yourself. Get these sorts of things in writing from your contractor.

Landfare offered no such protections and it could well have come back to bite me as I learn more about their shady dealings. Happily, the subs they were stiffing had the integrity to not go after the homeowner. However, not all subs are like this as I learned the hard way in about 2001. This is when another unscrupulous contractor didn’t pay a sub and I ended up with an $800 mechanics lean on my home. That was a lot of time and effort wasted to have to get the lien forgiven.

Landfare – not worth the risk.

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John Spayde/Landfare – details of the case

I started this blog as Landfare had made a mess of my project. A project that was quoted to me as taking 8-10 weeks took 1 year and 8 months and then still was never done correctly. I was endlessly frustrated with John as he was generally unresponsive and only would only get involved if I was absolutely irate – and even then he seemed to disappear as soon as it got slightly uncomfortable and then let Zach deal. (To be fair, he also showed up when he wanted to collect a check or to try to sell me something.) My contention is John has little to no business acumen and simply wants to be involved in his pet projects that he personally has designed. Even then, who knows what level of involvement or service was provided.

Fast forward, it seems John was running his business dishonestly. This is not entirely surprising to me. Getting receipts, bills of material, or any sort of accountability out of John was nearly impossible. For instance, I asked for their licensing information and never got it. I asked for receipts tying materials to my project (as in time I didn’t trust the materials they were using were indeed the materials I paid for) and instead, I got pictures of boxes of nails from Zach as they didn’t have the receipts. (Talk about a red flag!) A picture of a box of nails doesn’t tell me what is in my fence. If I asked for a guarantee or some recourse on their work, they simply would say “we’ll make it right”. That tells me nothing. Tell me HOW you’re going to make it right. Tell me HOW I can hold you accountable. Refunds? Reimbursements as I find my own subs? John and Zach had seemingly no interest in anything of the sort.

Now we find out John couldn’t keep himself accountable. The fact he had multiple Mercedes fraudulently counted as business expenses is hardly the scandal here.

In reading the Sentencing Memorandum, we find John was stealing from the business by asking for cash payments from customers. John would also have checks made out to himself to avoid reporting the income under Landfare. This is also stealing from the business.  How many raises were not given due to John and Landfare crying poor when in fact, he was skimming money that could have gone to employee pay? How much money could have gone to pay for employee retirement and healthcare benefits that instead went illegally into John’s pocket? How many corners were cut in materials and construction techniques due to John trying to save a buck? Did anyone ever actually get what they paid for from Landfare?

If you are an employee of Landfare, you do understand that John effectively stole from you? You have options.

What’s somewhat amazing to me is that Zach sent a letter to the court to support John’s supposed character. Zach, John has been stealing from YOU, your family, and all of the other Landfare employees for years. You’re either complicit with John and his behavior or rolling over and taking it. Perhaps you want to wrap this in “Embrace Selflessness”, but typically Value Statements require an adherence to ALL of the values. I would encourage you to think really hard about “Nurture Relationships” and “Be Honest”. It seems John took advantage of relationships to have the customer not question why they were paying cash or making checks out to John personally. That reeks of manipulation and I can’t understand why anyone would be loyal to that. There is no lack of irony that Zach celebrates the fact that John gave him the “opportunity” to be a partner in Highland-Palermo, which as I have presented, there is a strong case is barely a company in practice.

So in the end, my case is bolstered. Landfare began to smell funny to me within a few months of the project. It is no surprise to me to find out that John was not operating above board as I felt I could never get good or straight answers out of him. It seems he has a history of obfuscation. Indeed, as a customer, you can do better. Avoid Landfare.

Soon we’ll talk about John’s sentence.

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More details in United States vs John Spayde/Landfare

The internet is truly a wonderful place as are public records searches. So what we know…

John didn’t report ~$123,000 in income on his 2015 tax return. Oops. That’s a felony. It seems the guilty plea was accepted on April 12, 2018 and pre-sentencing has started. Once a sentence has been announced, I’ll be sure to update. It appears the sentencing report will be available on or about May 2. Maybe with a little luck the penalties and fees will be enough to put Landfare under and no one has to worry about their poor service and quality ever again? One can hope.

Description of the charges

UPDATE June 25, 2018: It appears a sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 19, 2018. Stay tuned!

UPDATE July 23, 2018: The interwebs tell us Sentencing HAS BEEN CONTINUED TO 8/17/2018 @9:30 AM in Courtroom 5. Watch this space. Also, I really need to get off my duff and write my post on the great patio adventure. Sigh… such an emotional toil.

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