Contractor arrested for defrauding city

Holmes Beach police arrested a contractor Sept. 19 for allegedly bilking the city out of money paid for a road project last year.

Chris Arnold, 61, of Bradenton, owner of Services by Chris Arnold, was arrested for felony scheming to defraud.

According to the probable cause affidavit filed by HBPD Detective Sgt. Brian Hall, Arnold entered into a contract with the city in 2012 to replace curbing in some areas of Holmes Beach.

The agreement was to pay $24.50 per linear foot of curbing and the contract was valued at more than $215,500.

Over the course of June-September 2012, Arnold submitted five invoices for work completed and charged the city for each project until the full amount of the contract was collected.

On April 18, a former employee of Arnold’s who worked on the Holmes Beach project, reported to police that his crew did only half the work agreed to and that Arnold ordered his employees to paint over the remaining curbs in order to mask the orange spray paint that had been applied to indicate replacement.

New city staff in public works then began inspecting work sites and discovered several areas where the curbs had only been painted, not replaced. They said the old paint was showing through the cover-up paint.

City inspectors determined the number of linear feet that had not been replaced as contracted, was valued at $92,830.

Hall, who worked the case, made contact with Arnold Sept. 19, advising that he had an active warrant for his arrest.

Hall took Arnold into custody without incident.

During the course of the investigation, former building official Joe Duennes was interviewed. Duennes told police that he signed off on each project submitted for payment after inspecting the work.

When asked about the discrepancy, Duennes admitted that he did not take full measurements. He also admitted he signed off on some of the projects without making the required inspections.

According to Chief Bill Tokajer, Arnold has been contracted by the city for other projects and those contracts are under review to determine if additional charges are warranted.

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