JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow today announced he has charged a contractor who solicited work in Will County with 36 counts of theft and home repair fraud.
The state’s attorney’s investigators on Friday arrested Keith Gunter, 43, of 1500 Wingo Lane, Bourbonnais, on a warrant that included a $10 million bail. The warrant was issued on April 20. Gunter was arrested while returning a car to an automobile rental facility in Bourbonnais.
The charges, which stem from a year-long investigation launched by Glasgow’s office, include 18 counts of theft by deception, 15 counts of home repair fraud and three counts of aggravated home repair fraud.
The charges generally allege that Gunter, who had been doing business in the Joliet area as Leading Restoration Services Inc., accepted money to perform home repair work that he never intended to do.
The complaints filed by Glasgow’s office identify 18 alleged victims. Individual losses range from $2,000 to $6,972.33. Gunter is alleged to have taken a total of $63,668.14 from these people to repair roofs and siding damaged during storms in 2003 and 2004. Additional charges are possible as the investigation continues.
The three aggravated home repair fraud charges allege that Gunter entered into written contracts with three senior citizens who are over 60-years-old with no intention of completing the work.
“My office is committed to prosecuting dishonest contractors who prey on hardworking homeowners by skipping off with large deposits,” Glasgow said. “It’s even more disturbing when senior citizens fall victim to these unscrupulous business predators.”
Gunter never started work on any of the 18 jobs listed in the charges. He never returned any deposits even though many of the victims repeatedly contacted him through letters, by telephone or visits to his place of business.
Glasgow credited Assistant State’s Attorney Chris Koch and detectives Pete Piazza and Dan Procarione with conducting an intensive and thorough investigation that led to the criminal charges against Gunter. Procarione and Detective Michael Kelley arrested Gunter without incident.
The detectives are assigned to the state’s attorney’s office under an agreement between Glasgow and Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupas.
“Sheriff Kaupas exemplifies the true spirit of cooperation in law enforcement by assigning these three detectives to my office. We’ve had an excellent working relationship going back over 20 years that has always made us both more effective in protecting the public,” Glasgow said.
Will County Chief Judge Stephen White set bail on the warrant at $10 million in part because Glasgow’s office obtained a judgment against Leading Restoration that included civil penalties of $1 million plus more than $300,000 in restitution for more than 80 customers who filed complaints over the company’s alleged failure to return deposits for work that was never performed.
Gunter must post 10 percent of his $10 million bail, or $1 million, to secure his release while he awaits trial.
Home repair fraud is a Class 4 felony that carries a prison sentence of 1-3 years and up to a $25,000 fine if convicted. Theft by deception is a Class 3 felony that carries a prison sentence of 2-5 years and up to a $25,000 fine if convicted. Aggravated home repair fraud is a Class 2 felony that carries as prison sentence of 3-7 years and up to a $25,000 fine if convicted.
The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office reminds the public that a charge is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.