A 101-count criminal indictment secured by Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden charges seven Sussex County residents with a wide range of offenses related to a home improvement scam.
The indictment alleges that the defendants defrauded dozens of victims, including homeowners, companies, and the federal government
All of the defendants – John Walsh, 51, of Millsboro; his son Jonathan Walsh, 19, of Millsboro; Vernon Speece, 36, of Millsboro; Raymond Smith, 66, of Millsboro; Randi Sherman, 25, of Millsboro; Tony Anthony Miller, 56, of Millsboro; and Robert Morrison, 36, of Lewes – have been arrested.
John and Jonathan Walsh were committed to Sussex Correctional Institute in lieu of $101,000 and $40,000 secured bail, respectively. Vernon Speece was already incarcerated at SCI on previous theft charges. His bail was set at $40,000 unsecured, and he remains at SCI. Robert Morrison and Raymond Smith were arraigned and released on $22,000 and $2,000 unsecured bail, respectively. Miller and Sherman were both arraigned and released on $3,000 unsecured bail.
The indictment follows a three-month investigation conducted cooperatively by the Attorney General's Fraud and Consumer Protection Division and the Delaware State Police.
All defendants are connected to John Walsh, who is facing 101 different charges. According to the Attorney General's office, Walsh has operated heating and air conditioning services companies out of the Millsboro area under various names for the past 10 years, including Mid Atlantic Heating and Air, Eastern Shore Heating and Air, and AOC/Mid Atlantic Heating and Air. The indictment charges the defendants associated with these companies with a pattern of theft and fraud over a four-year period, beginning in July 2009.
The indictment charges a variety of crimes, including racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, home improvement and insurance fraud, theft, forgery, unlawful use of a credit card, and check cashing fraud.
Among the accusations against Walsh and his associates are that they collected payments for new heating and cooling systems, but never performed the work; secured payments for new heating and cooling systems, but instead replaced the old systems with used ones that were repainted to look new; made unauthorized charges to homeowners' credit cards; forged one homeowners' check from the amount of $46 to $460; and more.
According to the Attorney General's office, Walsh and his associates targeted homeowners in the Swann Keys manufactured home community last fall after Hurricane Sandy caused flooding damage to several homes.
Also, the Attorney General's office says Walsh and his associates never acquired the necessary licenses to perform work in the HVAC field.
Total amounts lost by each victim ranges from a few hundred dollars to $36,000. In total, more than $135,000 was lost by two banks, the federal government, and more than 30 individual homeowners.
Biden made it a point to clarify that there is a legitimate heating and cooling services company also by the name of Mid Atlantic Heating and Air Conditioning based in Salisbury, Md. This company is not in any way connected to Walsh.
Page 2 of 2 - If you think you may have been targeted by Walsh or any of his associates, call the Attorney General's Office at (302) 856-5353.
Keep checking www.sussexcountian.com for additional information as the case unfolds.