Cape Coral contractor arrested for fraud

Posted: Sep 04, 2018 7:10 PM -04:00 Updated:
CAPE CORAL, Fla. -

A Cape Coral contractor was arrested for fraud Tuesday afternoon.

Christopher Cheney, the owner of Southern Premier, was booked on one count of fraud-swindle (obtaining property $50,000 or more), a first-degree felony, after dozens of people said he took their money but didn't do the work.

Reporting on Cheney began one year ago after he closed his business without giving back money to many dissatisfied customers.

Then, less than two weeks ago, we pushed the story forward, questioning why Cheney and other accused contractors had not been arrested or charged.

Cheney bonded out of jail Tuesday night.

"Do not come on my property," Cheney said when he saw Investigator Rachel Polansky.

"Talk with us, Mr. Cheney. You're charged with scheme to defraud. Mr. Cheney?" Polansky said.

Cheney shut his door on Polansky, and on his chance to explain his side of the story.

Seventeen people complained to the state licensing board and 11 to Cape Coral Police that Cheney took their money but didn't finish the work.

"How much money have you lost throughout this ordeal?" Polansky asked two of Cheney's former customers.

"$15,000," said Lisa Johnson of St. James City.

"I lost around $40,000," said Rolandas Girdvainis of Fort Myers.

A Cape Coral Police Department spokesperson said that the agency sent a warrant request to the State Attorney's Office for Cheney’s arrest in February. That 50-page warrant request was approved on Tuesday.

In the warrant request, a detective said that Cheney took more than $700,000 for contracting work that he used for other purposes.

"Cheney engaged in a systematic and ongoing course of conduct with the intent to defraud multiple parties to obtain monies by false pretenses, representations, promises or intentional misrepresentations of a future act with Southern Premier Homes, LLC. The actions of Christopher Paul Cheney by way of Southern Premier Homes, LLC caused victims to incur an aggregate loss of approximately $703,939.69," Cape Coral Detective Meghan Hicks said.

Also in the report, one of Cheney's former employees said that Cheney was "always a million in the hole."

Another former employee said, "I knew he was screwing people over, and I did what he told me to do, and I didn't like it."

The warrant request also said that "Between October 11, 2016, and June 12, 2017, in Lee County, Florida, [Cheney] did knowingly scheme to defraud one or more persons, and did thereby obtain property in the aggregate value of $50,000 or more, contrary to Florida Statute."

“It’s been a long time to coming,” said Lisa Johnson, of St. James City.

When he didn't do the work, Johnson filed a complaint through the state, the attorney general's office and Cape Coral Police.

Tuesday afternoon, she found out about Cheney's arrest.

“I hope that he will face all of the music and in some way have to repay some of the victims or the state of Florida, which has already paid out some claims on his behalf,” Johnson said.

Cheney is scheduled to return to court next Monday, September 10th.


See the NBC2 Investigators three-part series looking into contractor fraud.

Part 1: Find out why some home contractors have unfinished business in Southwest Florida

Part 2:  Why are contractors leaving customers hung out to dry?

Part 3: Marco Island homeowners lose money, patience with subcontractor

 

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