An Evansville contractor charged with home improvement fraud in Warrick County has now been accused of a similar crime in Vanderburgh County.
A probable cause affidavit filed by the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office shows that Matthew S. Gates, CEO of Elite Construction Systems, was arrested and booked into Vanderburgh County Jail on Sunday for allegedly bilking a customer in Evansville of $9,600 in a home improvement fraud scheme. The affidavit lists felony theft and home improvement fraud as Gates’ charges.
He was still lodged in the jail as of Tuesday morning.
Gates was released on bond last week and has a hearing scheduled in March in Warrick County for allegedly defrauding a Newburgh couple out of nearly $30,000. In that case, Gates is alleged to have told the couple that his company would have a new sunroom installed on their home by Mother’s Day 2021.
A homeowner’s nightmare: Evansville contractor has history of fraud, legal issues
What followed, prosecutors allege, was a pattern of excuses, false promises, delays, infrequent and shoddy work, followed by a total ghosting of the couple by Gates and his company. All the couple said they got out of the deal was a poorly installed deck and $28,785 in lost money.
A history of legal trouble
It’s not the first time Gates has experienced legal trouble. Court records show that, since 2020, Gates is listed as a defendant in 11 cases filed as civil collections or small claims. And in 2009, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department in Florida arrested him on charges of grand theft and organized fraud after three Jacksonville homeowners paid thousands of dollars for roofing work that was never done.
What Gates is being charged of in Vanderburgh County is nothing different.
According to the affidavit, Elite Construction Systems was hired in January 2021 to build a deck and covered porch at a home on Darmstadt Road. Gates signed into a contract with the customer, received a down payment of $9,600, but then never showed up to do the work, investigators said.
The affidavit states that the customer received “numerous” excuses as to why the project was delayed.
From the period of April 1 to May 26, Gates came out to the residence, dug holes for the porch, dropped off roofing tiles, placed posts and then never returned to complete the project, the affidavit stated. Gates then repeatedly provided the customer with excuses and reasons why the project could not be finished, investigators said, which the affidavit stated were “consistent with fraud.”
The customer’s last contact with Gates was on Sept. 7, when they asked him for a refund. Gates allegedly refused.
Additionally, the affidavit notes that the Vanderburgh County Building Commission does not list Gates as a licensed contractor in the county and that he hadn’t applied for the necessary building permit for the Darmstadt Road home project.
Gates has a hearing in Vanderburgh Circuit Court on Feb. 22 at 1 p.m.
This article originally appeared on Evansville Courier & Press: Elite Construction CEO gets new charges from Vanderburgh County Sheriff