WARSAW — A local man faces a theft charge related to a construction project he never began.
James Edwin McElroy, 38, with addresses of both 705 E. 4th St. Lot 82, Rochester, and 1011 N. Plum St., Plymouth; is facing one count of theft, a level 6 felony.
On Oct. 29, 2019, a detective with the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office spoke with two homeowners who wished to make a report of home improvement fraud. According to the victims, they had entered into a contract on July 24, 2019, with McElroy. The contract included installing a metal roof and new windows while also removing old siding and installing new vinyl siding. The contract total was $30,000, with the homeowners paying $15,000 upfront with the remaining balance to be paid upon completion.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, the homeowners wrote McElroy a check for $5,000 and provided an additional $200 in cash on July 27, 2019. Then, on Aug. 2, 2019, the homeowners paid McElroy an additional $9,800 in cash. Receipts for all payments were provided to the detective.
As of Aug. 22, 2019, McElroy had not started work on the residence. On Aug. 23, 2019, McElroy reportedly came to the residence and admitted that he had already spent the $15,000 and didn’t have money to buy materials to purchase materials to get the job started.
On Aug. 9, 2019, McElroy called the homeowners and stated that he wanted to start work on the home. On Sept. 8, 2019, the homeowners tour another home that McElroy was working on and believed the work is substandard. The homeowners told McElroy that he needed to fix the job he was working on before starting on their home.
Around Sept. 12, 2019, the homeowners hired an alternate contractor to complete the work. The homeowners also left a note at McElroy’s residence requesting that he return their deposit of $15,000.
On Nov. 27, 2019, the detective was able to interview McElroy at his residence. McElroy admitted that he spent the original $15,000 on items not related to the homeowner’s contract.
McElroy has still not returned the $15,000 to the homeowners as of Aug. 21. He was booked into the Kosciusko County Jail on Aug. 28, with a bond of $17,000 surety and cash.