MANATEE -- A contractor who billed the city of Holmes Beach more than $92,000 for work he didn't complete was sentenced Thursday to a year in jail and ordered to repay the money.
On March 18, Chris Arnold pleaded no contest to a charge of second-degree grand theft after Holmes Beach officials in 2012 paid him for rebuilding curbs he did not complete.
The Holmes Beach Police Department learned of the fraud from a former employee who came forward in 2013 saying only half the work contracted for was completed.
Circuit Judge Deno Economou sentenced to Arnold to 364 days in county jail followed by 14 years probation. Economou ordered Arnold to complete 100 hours community service and pay restitution and court costs.
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"You are being sentenced for a crime you have committed, to a crime you pled to," Economou told him.
Economou also agreed with the prosecutor, who said Arnold has shown the ability to work despite claiming
he had been unable to find a job since his 2013 arrest because of health issues.
A restitution hearing will be scheduled for a later date to determine the exact sum Arnold must repay.
Assistant State Attorney Lisa Chittaro indicated she was prepared to move forward with determining restitution, noting the judge granted Arnold an extension of time before sentencing so he could pay a substantial amount of money toward restitution. Arnold did not have any money to remit Thursday, said defense attorney Jason Reid.
Holmes Beach Police Chief William Tokajer testified the department supported the state-recommended sentence.
"He did make a call to the city to see if he could do some work in lieu of, but we aren't interested in that," Tokajer said. "The work was not done in an ethical manner in the first place. Why give him a second chance?"
Arnold testified on his own behalf.
"About three months after being arrested my blood pressure started going up," Arnold said. "I just wished someone would have called me instead of arresting me."
Arnold explained why he came without any money to court Thursday.
"Three years with no pay, I owe the man in the bank money. I owe my attorney money," Arnold said.
He also said the city belittled him during the process.
"There is no crime here," Arnold said. "The only crime is dragging a person through this procedure."
Economou had one question for him.
"Whose idea was it to paint the curbs?" Economou asked.
Arnold replied they were never painted over. Investigators said Arnold ordered his crew to paint over some curbs he had been paid to replace.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.