Courtesy of the Department of Labor & Industries
SEATTLE — An unregistered contractor must serve 30 days in jail for scamming homeowners who paid him thousands of dollars for home improvement projects that he never finished.
King County Superior Court Judge Theresa Doyle also ordered Gary Shannon Edwards to repay his victims in King and Pierce counties $51,659, and pay court costs.
Edwards, 44, of Seattle, pleaded guilty to second-degree, felony theft and two counts of unregistered contracting, according to the Washington Attorney General’s Office. He entered the plea and was sentenced on the same day, July 11.
Edwards admitted pocketing payments for jobs that he never completed or in some cases never started.
“With the home improvement season in full swing, this case is a reminder to check out contractors before you choose one and Hire Smart,” said Doric Olson, deputy assistant director of L&I Fraud Prevention and Labor Standards. “We want to make sure your home project is a success — not a nightmare.”
The case resulted from a Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) investigation that found Edwards victimized more than eight homeowners in Seattle, Kent, Renton, Sammamish and Tacoma last year.
In one of the Tacoma cases, Edwards met with a customer in April 2013 to choose cabinets. He cashed the customer’s deposit check for $4,500, but never ordered the cabinets or performed any work, the investigation found.
Edwards was doing business as Longevity Construction, but he was not registered as a contractor with L&I, as required by state law.
This isn't Edwards' first brush with the law. He faces extradition to Ohio for a 2013 theft charge in that state, and in 1987, he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in King County.
Homeowners can check to see if a prospective construction contractor is registered by going to Verify.Lni.wa.gov or calling 1-888-811-5974.
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The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Attorney General Bob Ferguson is working hard to protect consumers and seniors against fraud, keep our communities safe, protect our environment and stand up for our veterans. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Alison Dempsey-Hall, Interim Communications Director, (206) 442-4482, firstname.lastname@example.org