A St. Johns County contractor was arrested this month on a felony charge, accused of not delivering on work after he had been paid deposits. Police said they started investigating the contractor in 2013 and found more than 10 people who had contracts with the man for home renovations, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Permits were never issued for any of the work and the man required customers to provide at least 75 percent of the money up front, the newspaper reported. The contractor was not licensed to do the work and homeowners reported a total loss of about $150,000, the newspaper reported.
The man was charged with an organized scheme to defraud of more than $50,000. This St. Johns County Theft Charge is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in state prison. According to Florida law a scheme to defraud is “a systematic, ongoing course of conduct with intent to defraud one or more persons, or with intent to obtain property from one or more persons by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises or willful misrepresentations of a future act.” In order to prove this type of case, the state needs to prove this was an ongoing, intentional scheme where the contractor had no intent of every doing the work that he had been paid for. As in all St. Johns County Theft Cases, the potential punishment is based on the value of the property or alleged theft in question. For example, an organized scheme to defraud of less than $20,000 is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison. When the value jumps to between $20,000 and $50,000, the charge becomes a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. Once the crime crosses the $50,000 threshold, as it did in this St. Johns County Theft Case, the charge can become a first-degree felony.
In many St. County Theft Cases such as this one, other potential victims may tend to come forward once they know the allegations are made public. Because this investigation is already pushing two years, that may not be the case. Although it would not change the charges in this St. Johns County Theft Case because it is already a first-degree felony, an increase in the number of alleged victims in the case would be adding more people who could likely testify should the case go to trial. Our St. Johns County Theft Attorney represents people in all types of theft cases, from misdemeanor theft charges on up to felony schemes to defraud.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our St. Johns County Theft Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.