EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Jeffrey Stoltz was known to many around East Grand Rapids.
The contractor had children in East Grand Rapids schools and was a member of the city’s Construction Appeals Board. So when residents like Paul Hegele decided to have remodeling work done, they trusted Stoltz.
But it appears they misplaced that trust.
After a three-month investigation by East Grand Rapids Department of Public Safety detectives, Stoltz was charged with two counts of larceny by conversion and one count of bad check writing. All three charges are felonies, the most serious of which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
The Hegeles and another East Grand Rapids family were named as victims in the case.
In February, investigators told Target 8 there were more potential victims who decided not to pursue charges.
“We hope there’s not going to be just a slap on the wrist and nothing gets done,” Paul Hegele said.
After months of coming home to a house wrapped only in insulation, new contractors are almost finished working on his home.
“Wrapping up the siding right now. Yeah, we’re about done,” Hegele said.
The projects he paid Stoltz some $60,000 to do ended up costing a lot more.
“A lot of legal fees, so around $15,000. We’ve got a lot of other additional costs. I’m thinking close to $100,000 in damages,” Hegele said.
Investigators allege Stoltz started construction on his house and other projects for East Grand Rapids homeowners, but left behind a trail of unfinished work and unpaid bills.
“Unfortunately, through the investigation, it appears that that money is not there and it is in fact gone,” Hegele said.
It’s difficult to add up just how much money is missing. Court records show Stoltz was paid over $171,000 for the two projects for which he faces charges. Some of the work was completed. But along with the work that wasn’t finished, investigators say Stoltz bounced over $24,000 in checks to contractors and subcontractors.
The day Target 8 broke the story in February, Stoltz reportedly packed up his family and moved to Illinois.
Stoltz turned himself in to be charged last week, after which he posted bond and was released.
While Hegele doesn’t expect to recoup the money he lost, he said coming forward prevented at least one family from making the same mistake in hiring Stoltz.
“I had someone reach out to me on social media and thanked us for letting them know, that they were actually interviewing him and that out of all the builders they interviewed, he was the most charming and the one that really came to the table,” Hegele said.
Stoltz is due back in court June 5.