Texas contractor agrees to repay for $64K theft from 17 Westmoreland homeowners
By Rich Cholodofsky
Published: Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
A Texas contractor avoided a jail sentence on Thursday when he agreed to pay 17 homeowners who had liens placed against their properties because his company failed to pay for supplies used to repair their roofs.
Steven Tyler Hunt, 36, of Waxahachie, Texas, pleaded guilty to charges that he bilked property owners out of nearly $64,000 when he repaired roofs damaged during a tornado that struck the area in 2011.
Under terms of the plea bargain approved by Westmoreland County Judge Al Bell, Hunt paid $4,000 in restitution Thursday and agreed to pay $2,000 monthly until his debt is erased.
Hunt was sentenced to serve 69 days to 23 months in jail and five years on probation. He was paroled on Thursday when he was given credit for time he served in jail following his arrest last year.
Bell said Hunt faced up to 119 years in prison and $55,000 in fines had he received maximum sentences for all 17 felony theft charges.
County detectives said Hunt collected money from his victims for the roof repairs he completed. Part of the cash was to be paid to ABC Supply Co. Inc., based in Beloit, Wis., for materials used.
But the company was never paid for those supplies and had mechanic liens placed on the 17 properties.
Ryan Moore had a $3,200 lien placed on her Hempfield property. In court Thursday, she said she is still suffering the consequences of Hunt's actions.
“I wasn't able to refinance my home because of the lien and because of Mr. Hunt's business conduct,” Moore said. “We'd like to see the money repaid and the lien lifted from our house. Jail is not the answer. If he is in jail he won't pay anything.”
Rebecca Ruble said she too has had credit problems as a result of the lien on her home.
“I beg of you to make those payments every month and get this over with,” Ruble told Hunt.
Hunt told Bell there were extenuating circumstances that led to his actions, but he offered no specifics in court.
Outside the courtroom, Hunt said he was victimized by a business partner and another man in Texas who stole his company's money. One man was prosecuted for his role in the thefts, Hunt said.
“The money was stolen from me,” Hunt said. “It wasn't because I took the money and ran.”
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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