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Theft charges for Seattle contractor accused of scamming homeowners
For the Reporter
A Seattle contractor faces charges that he defrauded homeowners who paid him more than $45,000 to upgrade their bathrooms and kitchens, and do other home renovation projects.
Instead of improving homes, Gary Shannon Edwards is accused of pocketing payments for work that he never completed or never even started, according to charges filed by the Washington Attorney General's Office.
Edwards, 44, has pleaded not guilty in King County Superior Court to two counts of second-degree theft and four counts of unregistered contracting.
This isn't Edwards' first brush with the law. He faces extradition on an Ohio governor's warrant for a 2013 theft charge in that state. In 1987, he pleaded guilty in King County to second-degree murder.
Victims in Seattle, Kent, Renton, Sammamish
The recent charges result from a Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) investigation that found Edwards victimized more than six homeowners in Seattle, Kent, Renton and Sammamish last year.
In two cases, homeowners paid Edwards about $2,000 the same day that he gave them estimates. They never saw him or their money again, charging papers said.
In other cases, Edwards allegedly left jobs after barely starting or in the middle of construction. A homeowner in South Seattle hired Edwards to remodel her bathroom and kitchen. To pay for the project, she wrote a series of checks, including one that Edwards directed her to make out to his wife for $5,000.
According to the charges, when Edwards demanded another $1,800 that the homeowner had not agreed to, she refused to pay it. He quit, leaving the job undone, piles of construction debris in the yard, and the homeowner walking on the subfloor for six months.
Edwards was doing business as Longevity Construction, but wasn't registered as a contractor with L&I, as required by state law.
Don't get conned — Hire Smart
L&I urges consumers to Hire Smart by checking out contractors before hiring them. Hiring a registered contractor allows for some financial recourse if something goes wrong with the project.
• Verify contractor registration at Verify.Lni.wa.gov or call 1-888-811-5974.
• Get three written bids.
• Pay only as work is completed.
• Be wary of contractors who accept only cash or payments made out to anyone other than their business name.
• Get more tips at ProtectMyHome.net.