A 51-year-old Arlington home contractor who at times performed substandard work on home remodeling projects or sometimes no work at all was sentenced on Friday to three-and-a-half years in jail.
In a plea agreement reached with prosecutors, Ernest Thibodeaux pled guilty Friday in Criminal District Court No. 372 to a charge of theft of an elderly victim, $2,500-$30,000.
In addition Thibodeaux, who also went by the name of Kris Malachi, must pay $77,000 to his victims.
Authorities believe there were at least six cases in Arlington and the Monticello and Fairmont neighborhoods of Fort Worth in which he received payments and did substandard work.
“Our agencies are getting better and better at learning to spot these schemes, compile strong cases against the defendants, and make sure justice is served for these victims in a timely fashion,” Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney Sharen Wilson said in a news release Monday. “If you’re going to try and defraud the residents of Tarrant County, we are prepared to prosecute you to the full extent of the law.”
Dallas police arrested Thibodeaux in February after he was found asleep in his car.
It turns out he had warrants for his arrest from Alabama and Mississippi on charges of theft by deception and home repair fraud.
In the Arlington case, Thibodeaux was paid $4,850 to install new windows at the home of a 72-year-old woman. He never did.
In the other cases, he offered excellent rates on projects such as kitchen work, decks, installing new wood flooring or building extensions to homes. But prosecutors said he showed up only periodically.
He filed no permits and failed to provide $16,184 of building materials and labor.
Fort Worth building inspectors deemed his work “substandard and knowingly dangerous,” and ultimately condemned the projects, prosecutors said.
In one Fort Worth case, a woman told police she got an estimate for work on her kitchen, electrical, plumbing and decking from a Fort Worth business supposedly associated with Thibodeaux, who used the name Malachi, police said.
Days later, Thibodeaux contacted her again, telling her he was no longer with the company and could do the work at a new estimate.
At times, Thibodeaux identified himself as a New Orleans police officer, but he was never on the force, police said.
“This case represents a strong investigative partnership between our office, Arlington Police Department and the Fort Worth Police Department,” prosecutor Nathan Martin said in a news release.