By Kenneth Hart - CNHI News Service
Nov. 27, 2013 — The Ohio Attorney General’s Office on Wednesday announced the indictment of the owners of a Carter County-based storm-damage repair contactor accused of stealing thousands in a “storm-chasing roofing scam” in Lawrence County.
The indictment, returned in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court, charges Leo Patrick Richard Jr. and his wife, Carol Richard of Manhattan, Ill., owners of All Seasons of Kentucky Inc. of Grayson, with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, theft, theft from the elderly, money laundering, and receiving stolen property.
If convicted, the Richards each face a maximum sentence of more than 40 years in prison, according to a news release from the office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
“A criminal charge won’t fix the holes that were left in consumers' roofs, but we won't sit back and let predatory contractors swoop in from out of state to prey on Ohioans who have had their homes and lives wrecked by a storm,” DeWine said.
The indictment alleges that beginning in September 2012, Leo Patrick Richard and his company swept through Lawrence County and accepted insurance funds from the victims for new roofs before leaving town in September 2013.
The indictment also alleges that Carol Richard shared in the proceeds of the company. To this day, All Seasons has not provided refunds to the victims or started any of the roofing repair work, DeWine said.
The attorney’s general’s office also has filed a separate civil action in Lawrence County against the Richards and All Seasons.
According to that complaint, about 35 Ohio consumers reported losing a total of more than $171,000 to the Richards and All Seasons.
The suit seeks a civil penalty of $25,000 for each separate violation of the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Economic Crimes Unit, a division of the Consumer Protection Section, received extensive assistance in the criminal investigation from the Ironton Police Department.
“Our office relies on the assistance of our local law enforcement partners to put scammers behind bars,” DeWine said. “We appreciate their willingness to work with our office to make Ohio a safer place for all consumers.”
DeWine created the Economic Crimes Unit in March 2011 to identify criminal conduct in consumer fraud cases and to assist Ohio’s prosecuting attorneys in holding scammers criminally accountable.
To date, 81 have been charged with felonies as a result of investigations performed by the unit.
DeWine advised that consumers whose homes have been damaged in a storm should beware of traveling contractors who offer to repair their homes.
Before making any payments, consumers should research a contractor by checking complaints on file with the Ohio Attorney General's Office and the Better Business Bureau, and by conducting a basic Internet search of the business.
A grand jury indictment is a formal accusation of a crime and does not establish guilt.