A Palmyra man has pleaded guilty to multiples charges across several counties, including Phelps County, for his role in asphalt-paving scams among other crimes.
Attorney General Chris Koster announced Wednesday that Terry Wayne Phelps, 38, pleaded guilty in multiple counties to charges of financial exploitation of the elderly, stealing by deceit and unlawful merchandising practices for his role in asphalt-paving scams.
The multi-county investigation revealed that Phelps was involved with others in concealing the true price consumers would be charged for asphalt work performed, failing to complete work that was started and misrepresenting the true value of the work that was performed.
In one instance, Phelps, who operated under the name “Road Maintenance Construction,” defrauded a Vichy man into paying $56,000 for substandard paving work.
Koster said Phelps was sentenced to 10 years in prison on seven counts of financial exploitation of the elderly, 10 years on one count of stealing by deceit, and seven years on four counts of unlawful merchandising practices. The sentences will be served concurrently.
Phelps County Prosecuting Attorney John Beger participated in the prosecutions along with prosecuting attorneys from Maries and Boone counties.
“Consumers should be very cautious when approached by people selling home-improvement services door-to-door,” Koster said. “Unfortunately, there are always people like Terry Phelps who will take advantage of unsuspecting consumers.”
Koster said scammers should be assured that his office will protect consumers and pursue anyone who tried to defraud Missourians out of their money.
With consumers beginning to focus on spring and summer repairs, Koster said they should take the following precautions:
• Do not pay for work up-front. Inspect the work and make sure you are satisfied before you pay. A reasonable down payment may be required for some projects, but do not pay anything without getting a written contract. Avoid paying with cash. Use a check or a credit card instead.
• Beware of any contractor who tries to rush you or who comes to your home to solicit work. If an offer is “only good now or never,” find someone else to perform the work.
• Seek recommendations from friends, neighbors, co-workers and others who have had work performed on their homes in the past.
• Do not hire any person without asking for and checking references.
• Get three written estimates for the work, if possible, and compare bids. Check credentials and contact the attorney general’s office and the Better Business Bureau to learn about any complaints against a contractor. Before work begins, make sure you get a written contract detailing all the work to be performed, its costs and a projected completion date.