A man contracted to rebuild the Thompson Springs Baptist Church sanctuary, located on Bates Pike S.E., was not a licensed contractor after all, according to the Bradley County Sheriff’s investigators.
Christopher Brian Welch, 43, was recently arrested and charged with impersonation of a licensed professional and two counts of forgery.
According to Bob Gault, public information officer for the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, in November 2009 members of the church contacted county investigators requesting an investigation of Welch and his company, Welch Construction Company.
The church members reportedly questioned payments made to Welch for labor and materials to construct the addition.
Detectives reportedly investigated the allegations for six months. Gault said investigators could not find any records indicating Welch was a licensed contractor with the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors in Nashville.
The investigation also revealed two invoices for purchases of construction materials were allegedly forged to reflect significantly higher amounts before they were presented to the church for reimbursement.
The case was presented to the Bradley County Grand Jury which resulted in indictments.
The church also suffered hardship Nov. 5, 2009, when a fire swept through through the original sanctuary which resulted in a total loss. At that time, the new church sanctuary had just been completed and was unscathed by the fire.
Welch was arrested and released after posting a $10,000 bond. He will be arraigned in Criminal Court on July 6 at 9 a.m.
Gault said contractors are required to have a valid license issued by the state Department of Commerce and Insurance. To check a contractor’s status, contact the office in Nashville or log on to the state’s Website at www.tennessee.gov.