Federal prosecutors have indicted three people for taking more than $300,000 from Hurricane Michael survivors on down payments for work that was never done.
Christopher Mayes and Christian Pantazonis are accused of going door to door in the Panama City area to acquire construction contracts for Newton Remodeling, prosecutors wrote. Mayes and Pantazonis were joined by Edward Newton in the scheme, officials added.
Mayes, Pantazonis and a third person, identified as J.L. in the indictment “falsely represented work to be performed by Newton Remodeling, which often included rood replacement and major interior repair …”
The group then requested down payments saying the money was needed to secure building materials, building permits or to place the homeowner at the front of the line for repair and construction services.
The group lied about Newton’s qualifications and lied again saying the work would begin immediately, prosecutors wrote. At times the group sent workers to do small jobs at victim’s homes like removing damaged drywall or replacing shingles. However, when this work was done the suspects convinced victims to pay more money to continue the work that they knew would never actually be completed, prosecutors wrote.
As time went on and the homeowners complained that the work was never done Newton told them he would return the money he collected for the work that was never performed, the indictment states. Instead, Newton sent each homeowner a letter stating he did not intend to complete any of the work he was contracted to perform and did not return any of the money he collected, prosecutors wrote.
The group has already gone to their first appearance. They are expected to court in February.