In late September 2016, after nearly two years of investigation, a contractor accused of swindling more than $1-million from 14 homeowners was arrested and charged with 28 felony counts – one count of Theft by Swindle and one count of Nonpayment for Improvement for each of the 14 victims.
Four of the victims live in Eden Prairie; the others are from nearby cities. The first case came to light when one of the Eden Prairie homeowners talked to the City’s building inspectors about the trouble they were having getting their contractor, Daniel Baker, to finish home improvements they had already paid for. The building inspectors directed them to Detective Andy Rohde, who has worked on contractor fraud throughout his 27-year career in Eden Prairie.
As Detective Rohde investigated the first case, which originated in 2014, he learned that the homeowners had paid Mr. Baker more than $76,000 for materials and labor for improvements to their basement, but Mr. Baker had only done a fraction of the work promised. He eventually told the homeowners that he didn’t have any more money and wouldn’t be able to finish the job.
The homeowners then began receiving lien notices from subcontractors who had completed work on their home but had not been paid by Mr. Baker. The homeowners had to pay back the subcontractors and find new contractors to finish the basement, essentially doubling the cost of the project.
Through investigation, Detective Rohde found 13 additional homeowners who had nearly identical stories about working with Mr. Baker. After reviewing receipts and bank documents, Detective Rohde concluded that Mr. Baker had swindled $1,065,326 from the 14 homeowners. Court proceedings have begun and if found guilty, Mr. Baker could spend a significant amount of time in jail. Each Theft by Swindle charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine. Each Nonpayment for Improvement charge has a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine.