Oklahoma Contractor Charged With Fraud After Tornadoes

June 9, 2011

An Oklahoma construction contractor has been charged with taking payments to repair roofs damaged by recent tornadoes and strong storms, then failing to perform the work.

Six felony counts of violating the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act were filed Monday in Oklahoma County and two counts were filed in Cleveland County against Harold Whitt, 57. Prosecutors said Whitt’s whereabouts were unknown.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt told The Oklahoman that home repair scams and charity fraud typically follow weather damage.

“We know from past experience that this type of damage in Oklahoma and southwest Missouri attracts criminals looking for ways to take advantage of homeowners,” Pruitt said. “We’re getting the message out now so people can be aware of such quick-fix schemes and spread the word to neighbors and family members before they become victims.”

Prosecutors said that Whitt, under the company name All Pro Construction, signed contracts with homeowners in the two counties to replace the roofs of several homes, then failing to perform the repair work.

Storms that produced tornadoes May 24 left widespread damage in central Oklahoma and 10 people dead.

In an unrelated case, two Guthrie women were arrested for allegedly looting following the tornado that struck the town.

Irma Linda Cruz, 38, and Elizabeth Kay Sears, 34, were charged with the felonies, according to court records.

Logan County assistant District Attorney Lesley Smith March wrote in a court document that the two were “disturbing, moving and removing material objects of personal property belonging to victims of the May 24 tornado.”

They have not yet entered pleas and court documents do not list attorneys for either.

Information from: The Oklahoman

Topics Catastrophe Natural Disasters Fraud Windstorm Contractors Oklahoma

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