Del. Building Fraud Nets 4 Years

BERLIN- Following a conviction on fraud charges in June, a local man was sentenced last week to four years in jail and ordered to pay over $100,000 in restitution to a South Bethany family in connection with a project to renovate and expand their home.

Theodore Barrett, Jr., 39, of Selbyville was sentenced in Delaware Superior Court last Friday to four years in jail for convictions on several charges after he first attracted a South Bethany couple by taking them on a phony tour of a lavish home in West Ocean City, claiming his company had built the multi-million dollar waterfront residence, and then falsifying documents related to the permits required for the major renovation and expansion project.

The investigation was initiated last October after the victims filed a complaint against Barrett with the Delaware Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. The victims hired Barrett to complete a major renovation of their South Bethany home, but terminated the contract after becoming frustrated with the slow pace of the project. The victims later learned Barrett had submitted false information in the building permit submitted to Sussex County.

The Delaware Attorney General’s Office learned during the subsequent investigation that Barrett had taken the victims on a tour of a multi-million dollar waterfront home in West Ocean City in order to secure their business in the first place. Barrett claimed he owned the residence and that it was built by his company, Beachside Builders, but the investigation revealed he did not own the property and the home was built by another company.

Last Friday, Superior Court Judge T. Henley Graves sentenced Barrett to four years in prison followed by one year of probation. In addition, Barrett was ordered to pay the victims more than $100,000, including $93,998 in restitution and an additional $6,500-plus in legal fees. Delaware State’s Attorney Beau Biden said after the sentencing the punishment fit the crime.

“This fraudster learned the hard way that crime doesn’t pay,” he said. “Our Consumer Protection Division is working hard to protect Delawareans from dishonest businesspersons who betray their victims’ trust to make a quick buck.”

Biden urged anyone who believes he or she has been the victim of a fraud or scam to call the Consumer Hotline at 1-800-220-5424.