Arrests Made in Sussex Home Improvement Scams - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Arrests Made in Sussex Home Improvement Scams

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Recently replaced air conditioning unit at Swann Keys community (Photo: WBOC) Recently replaced air conditioning unit at Swann Keys community (Photo: WBOC)
John Walsh John Walsh

SELBYVILLE, Del.- John Walsh is the owner of Mid-Atlantic Heating & Air, Inc. in Millsboro. Authorities say he, along with six of his associates, ripped off dozens of customers at the Swann Keys Community in Selbyville and the Pot-Nets community in Long Neck.  Among other things, authorities say they promised repairs to air conditioning units, but never finished the work. They are also accused of doing work that was not up to code.

John Sauter is busy these days restoring mobile homes still damaged by Superstorm Sandy.He said, "Up and down this street here they've probably replaced 75-80 percent of the (AC) units," because they were in the flood area.  This situation is how authorities say the alleged home improvement scams began.  

Word of Walsh's arrest is spreading fast.  Fear of getting ripped off has Swann Keys Homeowner, Jeff Martin, thinking twice before replacing his AC unit. "I have to like definitely do some research.  Like know who you are dealing with before you get things done."

For Walsh, 51, of Millsboro, this is his third time being arrested for home improvement fraud. A Sussex County grand jury on Monday handed down an indictment against Walsh and six associates, charging them in connection with two dozen separate frauds against Sussex County homeowners, including:

  • Collecting payments for new heating and cooling systems, but never performing the work.  
  • Securing payments for new heating and cooling systems, but instead replacing the old systems with other used systems that were repainted to look new.
  • Frequently claiming that heating and cooling systems required unnecessary maintenance, new duct work, or pipe replacement, and charging homeowners for parts and labor that prosecutors allege were never provided.
  • Selling maintenance contracts to homeowners, and in multiple instances either not responding to service calls or charging homeowners for parts the companies claimed were not covered by the plan but for which the company received reimbursement by the manufacturer.
  • Committing insurance fraud in one instance where a homeowner received more than $18,000 from their insurance company for work by the companies that was never actually performed. 

Walsh, 51, of Millsboro, is being held on $101,000 bond after being charged with 101 offenses including racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, home improvement and insurance fraud, theft, forgery, unlawful use of a credit card and check cashing fraud. 

Also arrested were Jonathan Walsh, 19, of Millsboro, and Vernon Speece, 36, also of Millsboro. Each was charged with 40 offenses including racketeering, home improvement and theft.

Other arrests included Robert Morrison, 36, of Millsboro, who was charged with 22 offenses, including racketeering, home improvement fraud and theft; Raymond Smith, 66, of Millsboro, charged with issuing a bad check and theft; Randi Sherman, 25, of Millsboro, charged with issuing a bad check and theft; and Tony Anthony Miller, 56, of Millsboro, charged with issuing a bad check and theft.

The Delaware Department of Justice says authorities are checking to see if there are any more fraud victims in Sussex County in addition to the ones they are aware about. 

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