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2 tornado contractors charged with theft, accused of not doing work

Brandon Valandingham / JAIL
Brandon Valandingham / JAIL

Two area contractors accused of taking money for home repairs after the Memorial Day tornadoes but not doing the work were indicted Tuesday on theft charges.

Robert Tracy Greene, 53, of Dayton, is charged with 20 felony and two misdemeanor counts of theft involving 10 victims. The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office says his company, TK Home Improvement, went to tornado-damaged areas and entered into contracts for repairs but either completed partial work or did no work. Most of the charges estimate dollar amounts at more than $1,000.

SPECIAL PROJECT: Walking the Path of the Storm

Brandon Valandingham, 35, of West Carrollton, is charged with eight felony theft charges involving four victims. His company was called Buckeye Storm Solutions. Charges against him estimate dollar amounts at more than $1,000 and more than $7,500.

“(Valandingham) took payment from the victims but never returned to do any of the work,” county Prosecutor Mat Heck said.

Valandingham was booked into Montgomery County Jail Tuesday on a warrant, Heck said. Greene remains at large. Greene already had two warrants out for his arrest on area theft charges. Greene has also been convicted of theft three times for contractor-related accusations: twice in 2012 and once in 2013.

Heck said they are currently investigating whether there are other victims.

Anyone with knowledge of Greene’s whereabouts are asked to call 937-225-4747.

Valandingham already faces similar charges in Miami County and a civil lawsuit by the Ohio Attorney General's Office for alleged violations of the state's consumer-protection laws.

The Dayton Daily News first revealed the accusations against Greene and Valandingham in an investigation into complaints from tornado victims that unscrupulous contractors were delaying rebuilding.

RELATED: ‘I want him to go to jail.’ Tornado survivors say they paid contractor who skipped out

The most serious charges against Valandingham allege he stole more than $7,500 from Kathy and Larry Borgerding of Dayton. The Borgerdings told the Dayton Daily News they paid his company $7,700 from an insurance settlement to repair tornado damage but he never showed up, so they had to pay another company out of pocket.

“I’m very thankful that they were able to do this for us and to catch him, and I’m very happy for Dayton Daily News standing by us and helping us through this,” Kathy Borgerding said. “I’m hoping he either does community service or some jail time and then he pays everybody back.”

Valandingham’s attorney, Charles Slicer, did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

Heck said his office is receiving additional complaints on a daily basis about contractors from after the storm and has multiple open investigations.

“Tragedy and misfortune bring out the best and the worst in humanity,” Heck said Tuesday. “We’ve heard a number of examples of neighbors, and … strangers helping those in need without even being asked or paid to do so. Today is about those who wanted to profit from the tragedy and vulnerability of others.”

RELATED: Ohio AG sues contractor accused of scamming tornado victims

DAYTON DAILY NEWS INVESTIGATES

The Dayton Daily News was the first to report allegations that area home-improvement contractors were taking money for home repairs after the Memorial Day tornadoes but not doing the work. Our investigative report was part of an examination of obstacles area residents are facing recovering from the Memorial Day storm.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF 

In announcing charges against two area contractors accused of ripping people off after the Memorial Day tornadoes, Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck released the following tips on what do do before hiring a contractor:

- Get a written, itemized estimate.

- Ask for a business card or other identification.

- Be wary of unmarked vehicles. If possible, photograph the contractor’s work vehicle and license plate.

- Check the company out with the Better Business Bureau.

- Make sure they are licensed to do work in Ohio.

- Do not pay the total amount up front before the contractor does any work.