wjxt logo

Contractor accused of embezzlement

Detectives: Victim overpaid contractor by $70,000

Photo does not have a caption

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A contractor accused of embezzlement turned himself in to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office Monday evening.

Howard Shane Shafer, 42, of Fleming Island, is charged with embezzlement for misappropriation of construction funds.

Detectives began investigating First Coast Contractors of St. Augustine in September 2015.

At the time, a customer in Palm Valley reported the company was doing inferior work and was not completing the work they had been paid to do.

Between August 2014 and December 2015, the investigation revealed the victim overpaid the suspect an estimated $70,000, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.

The victim later learned a supplier had not been paid by the contractor and a lien was placed on the victim's residence, SJCSO said.

Two other victims from St. Johns County reported similar incidents involving the same contractor.

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said there are signs that people should look for when hiring someone to do work on their home.

"With a reputable dealer, you never pay anything up front. Make payments. But you also want to check them out through the Better Business Bureau. Check their references, or go to their work sites to make sure that they are doing good work," Smith said.

Shafer was booked into jail and released a short time later on $10,000 bond.

Detectives said the investigation is ongoing.