An Oklahoma City contractor charged with embezzlement after collecting payment for a safe room and failing to install it has pleaded guilty.
Taylor Wheeler, 33, of Republic Roofing and Remodeling, came under investigation by the Oklahoma Attorney General's Consumer Protection Unit after it received complaints against the contractor.
Specifically, an Oklahoma City resident claimed Wheeler promised to build a safe room in his home for a cost of $15,500 and $7,100 in labor and materials. The man said he paid Wheeler a $9,000 deposit to begin the project and paid the $7,100 labor and materials cost upfront.
Despite having been paid more than $16,000, Wheeler never began the project, much less completed it.
In October 2016, prosecutors charged Wheeler with one felony count of embezzlement. After he was charged, additional victims came forward alleging that Wheeler collected payment from them for work he never completed.
He faced up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
On Monday, Wheeler pleaded guilty to embezzlement as part of a plea deal. In exchange, he was given a 3-year deferred sentence and ordered to pay more than $37,500 in restitution to his victims.
A deferred sentence means that the contractor will not serve prison time, and will serve probation instead. At the end of three years, if he has successfully complied with all of the terms of his probation, his court record will be updated to reflect a plea of "not guilty," and the case against him will be dismissed. The case is expunged according to 22 O.S. 991c.
However, if he violates his probation, the district attorney's office can file a Motion to Accelerate sentencing. In such a case, the judge can go ahead and accept the initial guilty plea and convict the defendant of the crime. At that time, the defendant is sentenced according to state law and faces the possibility of the maximum sentence for the crime. The defendant does not receive "credit" for time served on probation prior to the violation(s) that resulted in acceleration of the sentencing. At that point, the defendant would have a criminal conviction on his record.
Learn more about a Motion to Accelerate a deferred sentence and a Motion to Revoke a suspended sentence here.
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