Customer of Jacksonville contractor angry. Calls the plea deal a ‘slap on the wrist’
Wyatt Green avoids jail time, pays restitution at sentencing
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A former Jacksonville contractor at the center of a three-year News4Jax I-TEAM investigation has now been sentenced on a single misdemeanor charge after reaching a plea deal. He, at one time faced, 20 felony charges of forgery, fraud, and grand theft.
Wyatt Green appeared in person in court following his guilty plea last week to the misdemeanor charge of false representation as a licensed contractor. As part of his plea deal, Green was sentenced to one day in jail with credit for time served, resulting in no additional jail time. He had already spent a total of 11 hours in jail following 2019 arrests in this case. Also as a part of the agreement, he brought $50,000 in restitution to his sentencing hearing. That money will be split among five of his former customers, one of whom called it a slap on the wrist.
“Very unhappy with how the court system handled it,” said former customer Letticia Lee. “I know being in jail wouldn’t get us any funds or anything, but this man got a slap on the wrist and it’s like, they are saying it’s ok to steal from people, it’s OK.” She says Green’s $10,000 payment to her won’t cover her expenses. She says she’s disappointed that Green isn’t facing more of a punishment.
Following the sentencing, Green gave a prepared statement to the I-TEAM that said: “For almost three years, this case had been kicked from prosecutor to prosecutor and not one would listen, not one took the time to understand the law and what really happened here,” Green said. After his arrest in April 2019, Green stated, “I fully intend to make it right. And any other wrongdoings that I have done, I take full responsibility for.”
Green’s attorney maintains her client is innocent. “It’s not a crime, what happened here is not a crime,” said attorney Ruth Ann Hepler, of the Law Offices of Janet E. Johnson.
Green said he sold his now-defunct business Storm Restoration Specialists, or Storm RS, along with his contracts, to another roofing company. Green said that company is on the hook for completing the jobs he was originally hired to do.
Former customer Lori Cooper is not one of the five receiving restitution from Green, but said she is out $8,000 and her roof has still not been completed. She said Green’s company, Storm RS, cashed her insurance check right around the same time that Green sold it, and she turned over all of her documentation to investigators.
“I have a 3-inch binder of stuff. I gave them a mountain of information. My case alone should have locked him up, and then you’ve got all these others. I’ll never understand it,” Cooper said. She blamed the fact that the case kept getting handed from one prosecutor to another. “I got the impression every time a new prosecutor was assigned to the case that they became less familiar of what occurred. I just don’t’ think they recognized the gravity of the case,” said Cooper.
She said she even wrote State Attorney Melissa Nelson four times, asking her to reassign the case to a prosecutor with more knowledge about the case, but Cooper said Nelson didn’t respond. In an email from the state attorney’s office to customers who had complained, prosecutors explained why they could not pursue felony charges, writing in part:
“Ultimately this is not an easy decision. Every customer who didn’t get their roof done is a victim in some sense. Every customer deserves to have their money back and roof fixed. It is a huge let down to have a case pending for this many years and end up at this resolution; but ultimately, we must follow the law and the facts. Both of which preclude us from moving forward criminally with the evidence we have.”
Green is now living in Alabama, and Florida corporation records show he is now involved in the operations of Florida Premier Roofing.