HANCOCK COUNTY— A Noblesville contractor will spend a year on probation for home improvement fraud.
Mark Sellers pleaded guilty Monday to home improvement fraud, a misdemeanor, and received one-year probation and a year suspended sentence.
Hancock County prosecutors charged Mark Sellers in January 2019 with home improvement fraud after he allegedly took money from Greenfield homeowner Lisa Dunkel to build a pole barn and didn’t finish the job.
Prosecutors said Sellers drilled holes and put up poles, but didn’t measure properly, so none of the lumber fit.
Plus, Sellers dug holes that needed to be pumped out because they were full of water, according to the probable cause affidavit.
“I hope he can’t do this to anyone else, and that is the purpose of this whole thing,” Lisa Dunkel said in 2019. “I want prosecutors to know that I support what they’re doing 100% because he doesn’t need to do this to people.”
Sellers primarily does concrete and masonry work.
Sellers has since provided a $4,000 refund to the Greenfield homeowner, and in 2020 prosecutors agreed to withhold prosecution.
As part of the 2020 pretrial diversion agreement, Sellers could not commit a criminal offense for one year.
Sellers was arrested and charged with OWI in Hamilton County on November 30, 2020, therefore violating the pretrial diversion agreement.
As a result, Hancock County prosecutors moved forward with prosecuting Sellers with home improvement fraud.
Prosecutor Brent Eaton told WRTV Investigates if Sellers does not comply with the terms of his probation, he could end up behind bars.
WRTV is working to get a response from Sellers’ attorney.
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WRTV Investigates first exposed the business practices of Mark Sellers in May 2018 after WRTV found $110,000 in civil judgments against Sellers in Indiana dating back to 2014.
Sellers is accused of taking money from customers in central Indiana and not finishing the work. WRTV Investigates met up with Sellers in March 2018 and he said he was working on paying people back.
“Yeah, through the judgments we will,” Sellers said in 2018. “I’m working on that.”
Following a WRTV investigation, the Attorney General’s office filed a civil lawsuit against Sellers in July 2018 accusing Sellers of deceptive practices, including taking people’s money and not finishing the job.
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Hamilton Superior Court Judge William Hughes granted a preliminary injunction against Sellers that prevents the contractor from soliciting or engaging in consumer transactions without a contract that follows the Indiana Home Improvement Contracts Act.
Sellers must also “complete the work as agreed,” according to the injunction.
TIPS FOR HIRING A CONTRACTOR:
- Get estimates in writing
- Check for criminal charges or civil suits here
- Check for a contractor’s license
- Ask for references and call them
- Ask to see examples of their work
- Ask about insurance: personal liability, worker’s comp, and property damage coverage
- Pay wisely, not all upfront