Kentucky Man Ordered To Repay Storm Victims

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - An eastern Kentucky man who posed as a legitimate contractor and bilked $54,000 from storm victims faces eight years in prison unless he repays his clients.

William Michael Noe of Wallins in Harlan County pleaded guilty earlier this month to contractor fraud and in lieu of formal sentencing Criminal Court Judge Jerome Winsberg ordered him to pay $20,000 to his victims by Aug. 8 and thereafter pay $2,000 per month until he returns everything he stole.

If Noe fails to meet this special condition, he will be sent to prison for eight years and must still pay full restitution to each victim.

In one case, Noe accepted a $5,800 down payment to renovate a home in eastern New Orleans and never showed up. In another, a homeowner gave him a down payment of more than $4,000 and all she got was a few electrical boxes installed.

In all, Noe was paid a total of $53,949 by seven homeowners for little or no work, said the Orleans Parish district attorney's office.

Byron Williams, an assistant district attorney, said Noe's case is one of the most egregious contractor fraud cases prosecuted to date.

Since the Contractors Fraud Task Force was created last October, more than 2,000 complaints have been filed, more than 20 arrest warrants have been issued and $75,000 in restitution payments have been made.

Some of Noe's victims, some of whom are elderly, are still waiting to get their money back.

Rowena Reddix, a 76-year-old retired school principal, said Noe told her in December 2005, that he would replace the studs, install drywall and flooring, and do all the plumbing and electrical work at her home for $14,000.

But the wood he used to replace the studs and the flooring was inferior, as was the electrical work, she said. He didn't do any of the plumbing work or replace the drywall.

Reddix said the last time she saw Noe was Feb. 8, 2006, after she went with him to the bank to withdraw a final payment. She estimates she paid Noe a total of $13,118.

Information from: The Times-Picayune,

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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