Totals reach over half million in damage allegations against Stellar Construction in the area

More new cases filed against the company, others expected

By: Tammy Curtis, Managing Editor

A few weeks ago, this news agency instigated an investigative report after having received numerous messages about alleged scams by Gerald Stellar, owner of Stellar Construction, LLC in Salem.
After learning the company had first been closed due to non-payment of taxes, we reached out to see if anyone else had issues with the company that has been under public scrutiny for alleged scams for a few years. The SRC first became suspicious of Stellar when he would appear on hundreds of posts for locals seeking construction work, always self promoting himself and the virtues of his company over many long time and well known local ones. Records indicate his liability insurance was canceled on July 26.
Many local contractors explained to the SRC Stellar would try to under bid them and all who spoke, indicated he seemed to have little or no construction knowledge based on the output of his work. Last week, the city inspector in Cherokee Village told one of his victims the job done on her home was the worst he had seen to date. The fact he had no construction experience proved to be true after speaking with numerous angered former employees. One contact who had known Stellar for many years said, “He didn’t even know what a hammer was,” and attested to the fact his past involved no construction related employment, only sales jobs.
This news agency began tracking Stellar’s past and came up with information from multiple states that proved the real Sam Helcher was a manipulative conman, one whose victims were often elderly, veterans or single mother or disabled women. Helcher’s reign of crime and dishonesty ran deeply across multiple states and under multiple names. It seems to have ended in Fulton County.
The man who had conducted a community Thanksgiving dinner, bought vests for the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department and donated labor was not who he seemed. But, what better way to make a community place their trust in him? Soliciting articles in the Salem newspaper, he soon gained the trust of many.
A member of his family even posted about his shady character and history publicly on our post that sought local residents input who were harmed by his actions.
Who is he?
Gerald Stellar was actually born Gerald Lee Helcher, Jr., his nickname Sam was one friends and family knew him by. He grew up in several towns in Michigan, including Flint, and in 2007, moved to Las Vegas, where former employees and acquaintances said he developed a serious gambling addiction as well as having other arrests. He returned to Flint just two months later, according to property records. He was back and forth between Las Vegas and Michigan until March of 2012, when he relocated to Stillwater, and Pawnee, Okla.
Where did the name Stellar come from?
Helcher reportedly gained the trust of a business owner in Oklahoma after meeting the man in an online gaming room. Dakota Mathews, owner of Stellar Roofing asked Helcher if he would move to do Oklahoma to do sales for their two generation old and growing roofing company that he ran with his father. Not long after he was there, Helcher began having customers make checks to him and kept the money.
It was during his time in Oklahoma that the company was also hired to build an apartment complex, according to a past employee who contacted this news agency. He was allegedly paid $300,000 and left the state without having completed work on the apartments.
Prison time
Sometime in the time frame, Helcher also lived in Kimberling City, Mo.,but no property records exist for that time. This indicates he may have rented from the resort where he was arrested in Dec. 2014 for first-degree robbery, a class A felony; making a terrorist threat, a class C felony; and resisting or interfering with arrest, a class D felony for a bank robbery attempt in Crane, Mo. and bank robbery in Berryville, Arkansas. Helcher pled guilty to the robbery in November of 2016 in Carroll County and was sentenced to 240 months in the Department of Corrections with 120 suspended.
By this time, he had several felony convictions, two prison sentences and had left a path of people claiming he had scammed them out of vehicles, property and large sums of money across the nation Several who knew Helcher claimed that he turned evidence on a cell mate who got 30 years for his testimony, allowing Helcher to get out of prison early.
He moved to Salem upon his release in 2018 after he served his sentence locally at the North Central Unit. In 2019, he petitioned the court to change his name to Stellar. The name of the company he had allegedly made his largest or “most stellar” name from. The name Stellar wasn’t even a family name it was a descriptor for the family business in Oklahoma regarding their “stellar” or exceptional customer service. In his name change request to the court, he cited he did not believe Gerald Helcher, Sr., was actually his biological father.
The investigation
It was shortly after that the massive construction company scam began in Fulton, Baxter, Izard, Sharp and Oregon Counties in the area.
In 2022, he moved to Horseshoe Bend and his home was recently listed for $500,000 on Marketplace along with numerous vehicles, including one his wife, Kelley was seen driving at a recent car show. The car was one that the title was reported to have been signed over to him in exchange for work that wasn’t done.
The volume of messages, calls, emails and texts that came in was almost immediate, by the end of the first week there were over 70 complaints. These were from former employees, customers and even vendors. All had a common thread and the stories were basically the same in all cases. Customers complained about:
• Shoddy or incomplete work.
• The requirement of large amounts of money up front for materials and often coming back for more despite work not being complete
• Not returning to the jobs for long periods of time
• Threatening to place liens on their homes when they complained about his company’s work
• Returning and destroying or taking materials designated for the job they were complaining about
Former employees complained of:
• Non-payment for hours worked
• Stop payments or hot checks paid for work they completed
• Never receiving tax documents to file their taxes
• Being required to fix many of the mistakes Stellar made in the alleged shoddy construction work and still not being paid.
This news agency first found cases filed in civil court in two counties against Stellar, one in Fulton County for $5,500 and one in Oregon County, Mo. for $70,000. The Oregon County case was first taken to the Thayer Police Department, but told it was civil in nature, despite the amount. At least nine other former customers and contractors have indicated they are planning to file suit against Stellar, including in Baxter, Sharp and Fulton Counties.
The largest of the cases is in Sharp County. The homeowners took the information to Sheriff Mark Counts last week after reading about the volume of others who had suffered similar damages from Stellar. In this case, the company was hired to build the couple an entire home. They are out over $170,000. The alleged damages incurred from this company are over $500,000.
Each person has been encouraged to report their claims to the police as well as the Arkansas Contractor’s board, who have already filed an injunction with the Arkansas Attorney General against Helcher and Stellar Construction, LLC. Besides being shut down for lack of payments of taxes, the company was closed and given a cease and desist order in August. An injunction provides for law enforcement to arrest Stellar on the site if he is caught performing any type of work in the area.
Just days after he was told by the licensing board of the injunction, Stellar made a post in a Mountain Home marketplace site seeking to pay cash for workers to complete a roof.
As the word spread of his widespread scam from the post, the first of what are currently three felony charges, came in to Fulton County against Gerald Helcher Stellar.
Deputy Prosecutor Dwayne Plumee was swift in filing the charges and within a day, Helcher was in jail. Just days later, while still being held on a $20,000 cash only bond in the Fulton County Detention Center after passing an over $11,000 bad check to Viola based All Steel for materials, two more felony warrants were issued in Fulton County for theft by deception.
In the first case, Curren Everett paid $13,000 cash from an insurance check he received for hail damage to his property in Salem. The repairs have not been completed after nearly two months. Stellar’s bond was set $5,000 cash or professional in this case.
In a second case, Stellar was hired five to six months ago to complete a bathroom repair for Veteran’s Affairs to make the facility more handicap assessable. Representative Larry Ayling with Veterans Affairs stated in the affidavit that Stellar first required them to pay $2,000 up front for materials. Three months later, he required an additional $2,600 payment for materials. After paying Stellar $4,600 the job is still incomplete.
At press time, on Monday, Sept. 19, charges in the Sharp County case had not yet been turned over to the prosecutor by the sheriff.
A parole hold was also issued against Stellar in the hot check case, the board released the hold, Sept. 15. As of Sept. 16, Fulton County Sheriff Joe Boshears confirmed the parole board had reinstated the hold after the new felony charges were filed. Stellar is also being charged as a habitual offender with four or more felonies.
An arrest was also made on Sept. 15 in the case after a confidential informant told Fulton County authorities that Jeffery Mason, 43, was responsible for breaking into the business after it was ceased. Mason allegedly stole a truck, a trailer and a car hauler valued in total at between $1,000 and $4,999. He was charged with commercial burglary, a Class C Felony; and theft of property, a Class D Felony and being a habitual offender with four or more felonies. It is unclear whether or not there was a relationship between he and Stellar.
Anyone who has not come forward with damages is encouraged to do so. This will help area law enforcement to an accurate representation on the damages done by this company to the area. They are also encouraged to report their complaints to the Arkansas State Contractor’s Board and Attorney General’s office.

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