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Man sentenced for scamming Kent, other homeowners on improvement projects
A 44-year-old Seattle man received a 30-day jail sentence for scamming homeowners, including a Kent resident, who paid him thousands of dollars for home improvement projects that he never finished.
Gary Shannon Edwards, an unregistered contractor, received the sentence on July 11 from King County Superior Court Judge Theresa Doyle, according to a state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) media release. Doyle also ordered Edwards to repay his victims in King and Pierce counties $51,659 and to pay court costs.
Edwards pleaded guilty to second-degree theft and two counts of unregistered contracting. He entered the plea on July 11, according to the state Attorney General's Office.
Edwards admitted pocketing payments for jobs that he never completed or in some cases never started.
“With the home improvement season in full swing, this case is a reminder to check out contractors before you choose one and Hire Smart,” said Doric Olson, deputy assistant director of L&I Fraud Prevention and Labor Standards. “We want to make sure your home project is a success — not a nightmare.”
An L&I investigation found Edwards victimized more than eight homeowners in Seattle, Kent, Renton, Sammamish and Tacoma last year.
In the Kent case, a homeowner hired Edwards in July 2013 to remove carpet and tile from the main living area and install hardwood flooring. Edwards came to the home and provided a written estimate, according to court documents.
The homeowner wrote a check to Edwards for $1,760. Edwards cashed the check the same day he received it but never provided any materials and never returned to perform any work on the project.
In one of the Tacoma cases, Edwards met with a customer in April 2013 to choose cabinets. He cashed the customer’s deposit check for $4,500, but never ordered the cabinets or performed any work, the investigation found.
Edwards was doing business as Longevity Construction, but he was not registered as a contractor with L&I, as required by state law.
Edwards also faces extradition to Ohio for a 2013 theft charge in that state. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 1987 in King County.
Homeowners can check to see if a prospective construction contractor is registered by going to Verify.Lni.wa.gov or calling 1-888-811-5974.