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Published: Wednesday, December 18, 2019 @ 12:01 AM
— EDITOR’S NOTE: Dayton Daily News reporters Chris Stewart and Josh Sweigart — joined at times by Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs — are traveling the length of the largest of the 2019 Memorial Day tornadoes. It tore a path across Montgomery County, impacting thousands of homes and businesses. We are gathering people’s stories and investigating obstacles to recovery. This story is part of that coverage. Go here for the full project.
The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office is pursuing 10 additional criminal theft charges against a local home improvement contractor accused of taking money from people to repair damage caused by the Memorial Day tornado then not doing the work.
The contractor, Robert Greene, has two warrants out for his arrest already. One was issued in September and is for a charge in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court of theft from an elderly or disabled person. A Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office report from March alleges Greene took $3,500 from a Harrison Twp. woman for home remodeling that he never started.
The other warrant, for a misdemeanor theft charge out of Trotwood, has been open since October 2018.
Greene has also been convicted of theft three times for contractor-related accusations: twice in 2012 and once in 2013.
The new charges to be presented to a grand jury are all related to his work with his company, TK Home Improvement, according to Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Greg Flannagan.
In an interview with the Dayton Daily News on Tuesday, Greene said he had a drug problem that led to his previous arrests, but he’s clean now.
“I was wrong and I paid for it,” he said.
WALKING THE PATH OF THE STORM PODCAST
Greene said he was “overwhelmed’ with the work he got after the tornado. But he said TK Home Improvement ran into problems because it was sabotaged by his ex-girlfriend who stole tools and cash from his house, then called his customers, informed them of his criminal history and said he was scamming them.
“I had no intentions whatsoever of screwing anybody,” he said. “I worked every day on these jobs trying to get them completed.”
He said he worked with adjusters to get customers more money.
“Why would I go to the trouble of meeting with the insurance adjuster, doing this (stuff), if I had no intention of doing the job?” he said. “All people do is look back at my past.”
Greene denied the accusation that he failed to complete work on the Harrison Twp. woman’s home. He said he doesn’t know what he is accused of in the misdemeanor case out of Trotwood. But because of the open warrants, he had to stop working on several homes before they were finished.
“I know for a fact when I step on one of their properties to do a roof, I’ll get arrested,” he said.
“I have to turn myself in,” he said. “If I have the opportunity to, I will finish every job.”
‘He needs to go to jail’
David Leiser hired TK Home Improvement in June to repair tornado damage to his Dayton home. Leiser said he paid Greene $2,500 but Greene didn’t do any of the work.
“He said ‘I promise it’ll be done. I promise it’ll be done. I promise it’ll be done,’” Leiser said. “I said ‘Give me my money back or I’m contacting police.’”
The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office contacted Leiser after he spoke to the Dayton Daily News. Leiser said Tuesday he is glad prosecutors are seeking charges since he ended up paying for some of the repairs out of his retirement savings.
“I hope he pays the price. He can’t steal from people all the time and get away with it,” Leiser said. “I think he needs to go to jail.”
WALKING THE PATH OF THE STORM PART 5: Seeking ‘peace of mind’ at the end of the Memorial Day tornado’s path
Another homeowner told Dayton police he was contacted by a former employee of Greene’s alleging a pattern of misconduct.
An October Dayton police report came from Richard Killmeyer on North Garland Avenue, who said his home was severely damaged by the storm and needed $20,000 in repairs. He hired TK Home improvement.
“After months of delays in repairs, and Greene only completing small jobs around the property, Killmeyer believed he was being scammed by Greene,” the report said.
Killmeyer told police he was then contacted by a woman who said she was a former employee of Greene’s. The woman allegedly said Greene was “scamming” many clients, working with insurance companies to increase the repair payout, then not doing the work.
The woman has the same name as the ex-girlfriend mentioned by Greene.
Killmeyer told the Dayton Daily News he hired Greene, who was working on another home on his block, after another contractor failed to show up to begin work. He said TK Home Improvement had no bad Better Business Bureau reviews at that point because it was a brand new business. The company now has an ‘F’ rating.
“Something needs to be done to better regulate contractors,” he said.
TK Home Improvement was incorporated in January 2019.
More charges for other accused contractor
Greene is the second local home improvement contractor recently accused of taking money for tornado repairs then not doing the work.
Brandon Valandingham, owner of Buckeye Storm Solutions, was charged in October in Miami County Common Pleas Court on felony theft charges accusing him of ripping off a homeowner in Piqua. He was arrested Dec. 9 and released on bond with a hearing scheduled for Wednesday.
Valandingham’s attorney, Charles Slicer, declined to comment on the case.
Seven people complained about Buckeye Storm Solutions to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, including several Montgomery County residents who told the Dayton Daily News that Valandingham took their money for home repairs after the tornadoes but then wouldn’t return messages.
The Dayton Daily News is investigating obstacles to recovery for survivors of this year’s Memorial Day tornadoes, and exploring opportunities for our region to rebuild stronger. As part of this effort, reporters Josh Sweigart and Chris Stewart, along with Storm Center 7’s Chief Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs are walking the path of the largest tornado that touched down that night. Together they are getting a close look at the damage and talking to survivors. Find our coverage at DaytonDailyNews.com/Tornado.