Matthew Morris

Matthew Morris

Citing passages from the Bible that call for turning the other cheek, loving one’s neighbor and doing right in the eyes of the Lord, Baton Rouge contractor Matthew Morris asked his subcontractors to show compassion toward homeowners Morris is accused of defrauding.

Morris, 39, who has been jailed over allegations he defrauded homeowners flooded in August, asked his subcontractors this week to follow his lead and remove liens they have placed on the property of his former clients, as he has recently done.

“We have decided to lift all mechanics liens placed on homes or businesses for monies owed to our company in all parishes,” says the statement from Morris, chief executive officer of Complete Construction Contractors. “Our hope is that every client and family can utilize these additional monies to continue to bring restoration and healing to their homes and lives.”

Law enforcement agencies have said Morris ran up the bill primarily on homeowners flooded in August, sapping them of much of their insurance proceeds before socking them with a large final bill to finish the job on their gutted homes.

Some clients who balked at paying and broke the contracts said Morris traded on his religious faith in initially winning them over, then would hit them with excessive costs and fees he claimed were called for under contract. He would then put liens on their property to collect the bill, effectively stalling home restoration work. Residents and law enforcement officials have alleged, however, many of the charges claimed by Morris were fraudulent.

Morris has been indicted on dozens of counts of contractor and insurance fraud, filing false public records and other charges in Ascension and East Baton Rouge parishes. He also has been arrested on similar counts in Livingston Parish and on a bank fraud and another count in Terrebonne Parish.

In his statement, Morris maintained his defense that his criminal charges wrongly arise from civil contractual disputes with his clients. However, he said, he did not want “any amount of money owed to our company for work performed to cause any additional pain or discomfort to our clients.”

The subcontractors' liens are over disputes they have with Morris for non-payment.

“We work hard with our own hands,” Morris wrote, citing 1 Corinthians 4:12-13. “When we are cursed, we bless, when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly.”

Morris remained Friday in Livingston Parish Detention Center on bail of $890,000.

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.