'Handy man' accused of home improvement fraud, theft

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- A 'handy man' who allegedly took several thousand dollars from an elderly couple for repairs that were never made is facing multiple charges related to the theft, according to court documents.

Larry Lewis, 65, has been charged with home improvement fraud, a class C felony; theft, a class D felony; and theft, a level 6 felony.

The victims are a married couple, in their 80s, who live in Lakeville in a single family home.

In June 2013, one of the victims learned Lewis was a handy man and asked if he could replace a breaker in the electrical box.

During a visit at the home, Lewis discussed replacing the air conditioning unit for the couple.

On June 26, 2013, the victims gave Lewis a check for $3,974 to purchase a new air conditioner to replace the one in their home, reports said.

Over the course of the next two years, the couple paid Lewis to perform work on their furnace, to install a security system, to replace a chair lift, but the work was never performed, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Court documents show the couple paid Lewis:

  • $3,974 for an air conditioning unit on June 26, 2013 (detailed above)
  • $1010 for a furnace control board on October 15, 2013
  • $434.52 for a furnace upgrade on January 18, 2014
  • $910 for a furnace on April 30, 2014
  • $1465.15 to install a security camera system on December 21, 2013
  • $3,800 for a Flexilift Remote Control chandelier lift on May 22, 2015

On July 7, 2018, the victims and friends recorded a confrontation with Lewis about the items that were paid for but never installed, reports said.

Lewis allegedly admitted to receiving payment for items and never delivering them, reports said.

He gave several company names and locations for where the items were being stored, but investigators say that information was false when cross referenced through web searches and phone calls, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Lewis appeared in court Friday and a preliminary plea of not guilty was entered.

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