Oklahoma Contractor Charged with Defrauding Moore Tornado Victims

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has charged a Tulsa contractor with two felony counts of embezzlement for fraudulent business practices in rebuilding homes damaged by the May 2013 tornado.

The AG’s office said Wesley Gamble, Jr. and his company NEXT Construction and Remodeling, was contracted in July 2013 by two Oklahoma City-area families to rebuild their homes that were damaged in the May 2013 tornado.

By February 2014, Gamble had allegedly stopped working on either home, even while reassuring each family that their home would be completed, and continuing to ask for more money from each family. One family alleges that Gamble even admitted in April 2014 that he had mismanaged the money he was paid and the money was now gone, according to state officials.

Each family made $10,000 down payments for the work that Gamble was supposed to complete in the time frame of one year, with total costs to rebuild each home of $110,000 and $95,000. Each family continued to make payments to Gamble over the next few months totaling a combined $180,000, even though Gamble worked only off and on to complete the reconstruction of each house, the AG’s office said.

Eventually, each family ceased paying Gamble any further money for work that was not being completed, and filed complaints with the Attorney General’s Office Public Protection Unit. Gamble never refunded either family for the uncompleted work, and he owes the families a combined, estimated $100,000.

“The May 2013 tornado that ripped through Moore was a dark day in Oklahoma’s history, but in the aftermath so many people offered aid and assistance to their neighbors,” Attorney General Pruitt said. “It is disheartening to know there are some people who would take advantage of Oklahomans when they are most in need. We’re dedicated to protecting Oklahomans from consumer fraud, and the Attorney General’s Office will prosecute those bad actors who would take advantage of people during a disaster.”

Gamble is charged with two felony counts of embezzlement. If convicted, he will face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Source: Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office