Authorities in New Jersey say they've tracked down and arrested a Florida contractor who they say took thousands of dollars from New Jersey homeowners, then left the state without completing the work. The Newark Star-Ledger has this report (see: "Contractor arrested in Florida for allegedly bilking N.J. Sandy victims," by Rob Spahr.
"At approximately 2 p.m. on Wednesday, officers from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Department located and arrested 63-year-old Richard Woodard on Friar Tuck Lane in Dunedin, Florida at the request of the Ocean County Prosecutor's Economic Crimes Unit," the Newark Star-Ledger reported. "Woodard and his company – Willwood Builders of Clearwater, Florida – are alleged to have taken in excess of $75,000 from a total of seven known victims in New Jersey, the prosecutor's office said. Authorities said Woodard never finished worked he was paid to do through his clients' savings, insurance money and state Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation grants after Hurricane Sandy."
The arrest is part of a concerted effort by New Jersey authorities to crack down on Hurricane Sandy scammers, reports Ocean County radio station WOBM (see: "Florida builder accused in Ocean County of bilking Sandy victims," by Tom Mongelli). "The charges surface on the same day that the New Jersey Attorney General’s office announced similar counts against a Manahawkin contractor, and a Toms River motel owner admitted collecting tens of thousands in FEMA subsidies under false pretenses," the station reported.
The alleged scam by contractor Woodard was reported in March in an earlier Star-Ledger story (see: "Con man or sick man? Shore contractor leaves Sandy victims broke and in debt," by Mark Di Ionno). According to the report, multiple homeowners say Woodard left them in the lurch. One alleged victim put all her recovery money into Woodard's account, the paper reported, and ended up with unfinished work and a lien on the building, filed by unpaid suppliers.