JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville tree trimmer with a previous fraud conviction is now charged with organized fraud, accused of taking money from customers and not finishing the jobs.
Police arrested Arthur Ayers, 39, on Jan. 23. He pleaded not guilty Feb. 28 and remains behind bars on a $50,000. His next court hearing is scheduled for March 7.
The warrant for Ayers' arrest was issued two days after an I-TEAM investigation into Ayers aired.
According to the warrant, Ayers had knocked on the door of three separate homeowners between late October and the end of December. Investigators said that in each case, he offered to cut down a tree for approximately $500. The warrant states Ayers received some or all of the money for each job and did some of the work but did not complete the job as it was agreed to.
Two of the customers identified in the warrant are veterans who had spoken with the I-TEAM earlier this month, saying Ayers disappeared before their jobs were done, leaving an expensive mess behind.
One of the veterans, Jyn Picard, reached out to the I-TEAM after first calling police and being told it was a civil matter.
"I contacted you guys because I know you are going to expose the situation and make sure that everybody is aware of it," he said. "He's got a long history of scams so he doesn't belong out here with the decent people.”
Prior to this arrest, Ayers had 14 other arrests in Duval County and a prison sentence for organized fraud. News4Jax coverage of customer complaints against Ayers dates back to 2011, before his fraud conviction.
Ayers’ latest charge of organized fraud is a third-degree felony. He is being held on $50,000 bond and is due before a judge Feb. 14.