Bowen working with sheriff’s office to prosecute contractor fraud

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Dec 26, 2012 - 01:05 PM

Mathews Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Bowen is working with the Mathews County Sheriff’s Office to pursue cases against contractors who attempt to defraud customers.

Bowen said a case had been brought to him shortly after he had been elected to office, but it needed more work, so he nolle prossed it and worked with sheriff’s deputies to discuss the criteria needed in such cases.

Recently, the contractor was convicted in general district court for a misdemeanor in which he wasn’t properly licensed for the work he did and didn’t finish the job, said Bowen.

In another case, a contractor agreed to elevate a house and replace the floor joists but only did minimal work and didn’t replace the joists, said Bowen. When the homeowner found out he wasn’t licensed, she told him to stop and asked him to return the $13,000 he had already received, but he didn’t, said Bowen. The case has been certified to the grand jury for January.

A third case of suspected construction fraud is currently under investigation, said Bowen.

Deputies are used to investigating criminal offenses, said Bowen, but the building code is a civil statute with which they’re not familiar, and they’re not in a position to refute a defendant’s claim that a particular action was correct. Outside experts are therefore needed to help prosecute a case of construction fraud.