Ohio man ordered to repay storm victims

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Special to the LaRue County Herald News

 A roofing contractor accused of failing to perform repair services for Kentucky residents, despite being paid to do so, has pleaded guilty to one count of theft by deception under $10,000, a class D felony. 

James M. Twaddle, 41, entered the plea on March 18 in Bullitt Circuit Court. His two-year prison sentence is suspended for five years on the condition that he repays $7,389.96 to the victims. He must pay the restitution in full by June 30 or he will be taken into custody.

Twaddle was previously indicted on 26 counts of theft by deception in Jefferson, LaRue, Scott, and Grayson counties, according to Attorney General Jack Conway. Many of these cases are still pending and involve victims who were solicited following storm events.

Twaddle pleaded guilty Jan. 17 in LaRue Circuit Court to theft by deception over $300. He was sentenced to two years, pre-trial diverted. He was required to make restitution and pay court costs.

Twaddle admitted to bilking Diana Amos of Hodgenville out of $2,464.22 on or about April 25, 2012.

Amos said Twaddle contacted her and offered to put a roof on her house. He asked for the money up front.

“He didn’t come back to do the job,” she said.

Twaddle was the president of Restore-IT USA, a roofing company located in Columbus, Ohio. Twaddle operated his business in Kentucky from an office located on Forest Green Blvd. in Louisville. From May 2012 until Aug. 2012, Restore-IT USA employees would visit neighborhoods and sign residents up for roof repairs, collecting payments prior to any work being completed.

Twaddle allegedly deposited the money into a company bank account and transferred the funds to his personal account; however, the roof repairs were never performed. Twaddle has also been indicted in Ohio on 42 counts of theft and insurance fraud related to the same scheme in the Columbus area.

“Consumers who need work done quickly to repair storm-damaged homes and property are at risk of falling victim to unscrupulous fly-by-night contractors, also known as ‘storm chasers,’” Conway said in a news release from his office. “Common scams include fraud, shoddy construction, charity scams, impersonating officials and loan scams, and I urge consumers to report any incidents of possible fraud or shoddy construction work and repair using my Office of Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257.”

Conway also encourages consumers needing storm repair work or cleanup services to follow these important tips:

• Never pay in advance for labor. Scam artists often take advance payments from consumers and never return to complete the work. If an advance is needed to purchase materials, offer to purchase the materials yourself.

• Use local, reputable contractors for repairs, if possible. If local contractors bring in out-of-town workers, ask who will be responsible for their work if it is not satisfactory.

• Ask if the contractor is licensed, bonded (if required by the city or county), and insured.

• Check unknown companies out with the Better Business Bureau or call the Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection to see if information is available about the company.

• Demand a written contract. If possible, get estimates from several contractors.

• Be suspicious of unfamiliar, out-of-state vehicles and those who offer repair work at unreasonably low prices. Contact local law enforcement about your suspicions.

• For additional information or to file a consumer protection complaint online, visit www.ag.ky.gov.ions across the state.

Editor Linda Ireland contributed to this story.