ANNA, Ohio (WDTN) — A Shelby County man says he is more than $100,000 short after a builder filed for bankruptcy and bailed out his project.
“I was building a house, about a 2,400 square foot house with a pole attached to it,” describes Bill Fanslow.
Fanslow purchased five acres of land from Anna to build her dream home.
He says he researched, asked for quotes, checked several references and decided to go with Blaine Builders of Urbana, owned by John Stoner.
In the summer of 2017, Fanslow drew up plans and contracted with Blaine Builders paying $130,000 for the initial cost of the project.
“They seemed like a really solid company,” Fanslow said.
In November 2017, they started working on the project. Blaine Builders had to hire an excavator to prepare the ground, and they asked for an additional $8,000 for gravel for the driveway.
“Probably about two weeks into the project it stopped,” Fanslow said.
He says Stoner wouldn’t return any of his calls.
Stoner and Blaine Builders filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy before the project was completed.
Fanslow no longer had the money he had paid, and although he had the pole built by Cleary Building, the house was never started.
“It just seems impossible for me to get the money back,” Fanslow said.
Fanslow filed a lawsuit in bankruptcy court, but the court ruled that Stoner was a bad businessman. With legal fees, Fanslow estimates he lost more than $200,000.
“It’s not civil. It’s way beyond bad business practice or a roof that’s not done right or trees that aren’t… You’re talking a lot of money here And these people have lost their dreams and everything they worked for all their lives,” said Detective Stephen Rhodes of the North Lewisburg Police Department.
Detective Rhodes started looking at the paper trail after receiving a complaint from a landlord.
“It started in January 2018. My sergeant at the time received a complaint from a local resident here in North Lewisburg about the ongoing problem – shoddy construction work, things not being taken care of. charge, no contact with contractors” describes Detective Rhodes. “She had a foundation, some electrical work and some basic structural work, but none of it passed inspections, and she couldn’t get any response from the contractor or the people doing the work.”
Detective Rhodes said there were too many red flags, and as he began to investigate this homeowner’s case, that’s when he found Fanslow and two other victims.
When he began investigating the case, he said one of the men doing the majority of the work for Stoner and Blaine Builders was Matthew Taylor, a convicted felon with recent charges of fraud and theft on his record. .
“He’s usually not someone you want to put in charge and pretend you’re giving all the money and letting him make financial decisions for over $600,000 worth of projects,” Detective Rhodes said.
Working with Fanslow and the other victims, Detective Rhodes began issuing subpoenas for federal records so he could begin tracking the money. Detective Rhodes said something was wrong and there were discrepancies in Stoner’s finances.
“You’ve had a lot of transactions ranging from personal accounts to business accounts, which is a no-no. You shouldn’t do that,” Detective Rhodes said. “He writes checks for car purchases. He buys a house during bankruptcy. He buys $7,000 worth of furniture. Keep in mind this is after he’s filed for bankruptcy. So he’s supposed to be broke and has no money to pay his debts.
2 NEWS has reached out to Stoner, along with his attorney for comment. Neither of them answered.
Detective Rhodes said it went beyond a civil matter and said it was criminal.
“No one from the local level all the way to the federal courts for the bankruptcy courts has figured out where that money went,” Detective Rhodes said. “I think I can prove he intentionally hid or misled them about the assets he had when he filed for bankruptcy with the financial records I have at this time.”
The case was never prosecuted. He said he spoke with Tim Sell, the Shelby County prosecutor, presented him with the facts, but his emails and calls then went unanswered.
2 NEWS has reached out to the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, specifically Sell, for comment. He never answered.
Detective Rhodes said now he needs the help of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to focus on financial analysis to tell him how much money has gone in, how much has gone out and where it is. went in order to present it to the prosecutors to be able to prove fraud.
“They can break it all down for me. They can show it to me. And that’s all we asked for. I’m not asking Yost or the AG office to take the case. I am fully capable of prosecuting a criminal case in this county. I did it for over five years. I just need the resources to provide the evidence that I need to bring to my prosecutors,” Detective Rhodes said. “Just from what I’ve found on my own and working with Bill over the past few years, I think there’s more than enough good enough evidence for BCI or the AG’s office to give us the help we need.”
Fanslow and Detective Rhodes said their communications and requests with the Ohio Attorney General and the BCU went in circles and came to nothing.
“I send letters. I send registered letters. I send emails, and we usually get the same sleight of hand. We will have Detective Rhodes contact BCI, and of course it will play out in a loop that repeats itself over and over,” Fanslow said.
“It’s bad enough that the crime happens and you lose that money. But then when you go to court and you’re looking for help and say, “Hey, here’s a crime that happened, this money was stolen from me,” and you get nowhere with a local attorney or at the state level with Dave Yost, our attorney general after multiple requests for assistance – We are just ignored. And that’s probably the most frustrating. So it kind of adds insult to injury with that,” Fanslow said. “It’s one thing to get ripped off, but then not get the prosecution to lock this guy up and try to get restitution from him – it’s just a huge bummer.”
2 NEWS has contacted the press secretary for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. He replied saying he would look into the matter. There was no further response.
“We are not going to leave. We’re not going to give up,” Detective Rhodes said. “These people have worked all their lives. They handed over that money. They saved that money in retirement. They plan to have their homes built forever, to live comfortably, to enjoy the last part of their lives, and their lives have only been turned upside down and destroyed for at least the last three to four years. We have some of the victims who are now going to be forced back to work to fulfill these obligations that they have and the things that they want to do because this guy took their money and nobody knows where he went.
Until Fanslow and Detective Rhodes get the answers they want, neither gives up.
“I’m not letting go of that. It is now my life’s mission that I will continue to work on this,” Fanslow said.
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