Man returns home to find driveway gone; Northeast Ohio contractor hasn’t responded for 5 months

Councilman says it’s a civil matter but still says resident’s drive was stolen
Khau Tran, standing where his driveway was, points to the house where the contractor was...
Khau Tran, standing where his driveway was, points to the house where the contractor was supposed to go(Vic Gideon)
Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 12:05 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - “Surprise, scary, and mad, really mad,” said Khau Tran, a Cleveland resident about the situation that left him without a driveway. “I came home from work and I see half my driveway ripped up.”

The contractor, Phil Putka, was supposed to replace a driveway a few houses down the block on Wayland Avenue, but accidently started the job at Tran’s house.

“I see the man. He stand there. He give me a big smile,” remembered the man, born in Vietnam, but who’s owned his Cleveland home since 1995. “What?! I make a mistake. I’m supposed to do a driveway four or five houses down the road, and he said, ‘I will come back and fix it,’ and I said, ‘OK.’”

But it wasn’t OK. The driveway hasn’t been fixed since the contractor ripped it out on Jan. 21, and he’s not returning calls.

“I keep calling, calling and the phone ring, ring and it goes to voicemail,” said Tran.

The number on the neighbor’s invoice doesn’t go through and messages to Putka on Facebook have also not been returned.

Ward 11 Councilman Brian Mooney initially answered complaints from constituents about the eyesore, thinking the homeowner was negligent

“We thought he was the bad guy not taking care of the property and here, he’s the victim,” said Mooney. “In all fairness, this is a mistake. It wasn’t intentional that Phil stole his driveway. But when you make mistakes, you have a chance to make it right so it’s not a criminal matter. It’s a civil matter.”

Tran has had to park his car in the street all winter and spring.

“That’s not right,” said Tran. “You make mistake, you fix it.”

Councilman Mooney had some final words for the contractor:

“If I could talk to Phil Putka, I would say, ‘Phil, ‘Putka’ the driveway back.’”

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