Man sentenced to 16 months for construction fraud

An unlicensed contractor was sentenced Friday to 16 months in jail for defrauding a Huntington Beach homeowner and a Yorba Linda family of more than $635,000 by taking their payments and failing to complete construction projects, according to a news release from the Orange County District Attorney's office.

Alec Damos, 52, of Pawley's Island, S.C., pleaded guilty Feb. 20 in Orange County Superior Court to one felony count of unlicensed contracting for emergency residential repairs in a disaster area, one felony count of fraudulent use of a contractor's license, and one misdemeanor count of contracting for home improvement without a state license, according to the release. In addition to his jail sentence, Damos was ordered to pay more than $635,000 in restitution.

In 2008, the Triangle Complex Fire burned more than 30,000 acres and destroyed more than 200 homes in Orange County, making it the fourth largest fire in Orange County history.

Between November 2008 and April 2009, Damos unlawfully posed as a licensed contractor in Yorba Linda using a contractor license number belonging to a legitimate operator without the person's knowledge or consent, the court found. Damos approached one family and initially helped clear rubble and debris in the days following the fire and was then contracted to rebuild the entire home for more than $729,000.

Damos collected more than $147,000 in advances from the victims, began some preliminary work and then abandoned the project, leaving it incomplete. Damos moved out of state with the proceeds without paying various subcontractors scheduled for the project. Damos paid himself more than $61,000 and spent more than $72,000 to pay for his own family's living expenses, including monthly bills, personal shopping trips, restaurant tabs and travel.

In 2009, the victims notified the Brea Police Department, which worked with the Contractor State License Board and the Orange County district attorney's office and discovered that, in a separate case, Damos had defrauded another homeowner in Huntington Beach of more than $488,000 in construction deposits in 2006. Damos was similarly unlicensed and abandoned the home improvement work, which resulted in substandard conditions and unpaid creditors and indirectly caused the homeowners to lose their home to foreclosure.

Brea detectives found Damos in South Carolina in 2011 and extradited him to Orange County.

Deputy District Attorney James Young of the Code Enforcement Unit prosecuted the case.

Twitter: @AliciaLopezHB

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