Commonwealth v. Timothy D. Phelps; Construction Fraud of $90,000 Draws 5 Years in Prison

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Colin D. Stolle, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the city of Virginia Beach, announced that Timothy D. Phelps, 51 years old, formerly of the 2000 block of Angora Drive in Chesapeake, Virginia, was sentenced yesterday by Circuit Court Judge H. Thomas Padrick for Fail to Perform Construction Return for Advances >$200 (felony “Construction Fraud”). Judge Padrick sentenced Phelps to 15 years with 10 suspended leaving 5 years to serve. This sentence is above the Virginia State Sentencing Guidelines, which recommended he serve no more than 3 years and 5 months. 

 

Phelps pled guilty on May 20, 2015.  Had this matter gone to trial, the Commonwealth’s evidence would have proven that between October 1 and December 31, 2013, Timothy Phelps of Timberlynn Construction had an agreement with the victims to build a 50’x 80’ garage.  The garage was to be attached to their Virginia Beach home.  The victims paid Phelps $20,000 at the signing of the contract.  They gave him an additional $20,000 when he claimed he needed it to purchase materials for the job.  The victims paid Phelps $15,000 on November 13, 2013, which was the agreed upon first day of work.  Phelps then told the victims he needed an additional $45,000 for materials, which they paid him.  Phelps had a sub-contractor dig a foundation, but did not perform any further work on the garage.  The victims paid an additional $20,000 to Phelps when he claimed he needed to make payroll.  After that, Phelps stopped communicating with the victims and performed no additional work on the garage.  The victims contacted the police department, and after an investigation, Phelps was arrested.  He gave no statement to police.

 

Although the victims paid Phelps $120,000, he did perform some work; therefore, the total amount of fraud is $90,000.  Upon his release from incarceration, Phelps will be ordered to begin paying restitution to the victims.

 

Although the victims in this case took all the necessary precautions, scam artists still operate in our city. The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office offers the following advice to help avoid becoming a victim of construction fraud:

 

·         Never pay the full price of a job before it’s done; pay in increments as work is completed.

·         If you pay in advance for the contractor to purchase materials, make sure they arrive at your home along with invoices indicating what was bought and paid.

·         Pay with a personal check or credit card, which can be tracked more easily than cash.

·         Don’t do business with contractors who knock on your door; find listed, licensed, and insured local construction companies.

·         Get at least three written estimates.

 

Phelps has an extensive criminal record dating back to 1982.  Some of his charges include Burglary, DUI, Assault and Battery, Obtaining Money by False Pretenses (multiple counts), Shoplifting, Petit Larceny (multiple counts), and numerous traffic infractions and violations of probation. 

 

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney C. Andrew Rice. Please contact Macie Pridgen if additional information is desired.

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