Crackdown on Crime - Contractor on the run

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - During the long months following Hurricane Rita, blue roofs were the norm as residents tried to weather the elements while looking for a contractor to fix the job. But not all were on the up and up: So-called knock-knock contractors moved in taking advantage of homeowners, especially elderly ones. Lake Charles Police Sgt. Mark Kraus says that's what happened in this case which they started investigating in April 2006.

"The elderly disabled lady in this case paid him $31,500 she got from her insurance company. He came back did a little roof work, which left her home exposed to the elements. It then rained in her home and did additional damage on top of the damage she had already paid for to get done and this person had not been seen since," said Sgt. Kraus.

It would be over year before investigators eventually caught up with 57-year-old James "Jimmy" Lewis. He would go plead guilty to the charge of theft over 500 dollars. Facing up to ten years in jail, Lewis struck a deal with Judge Wilford Carter to delay his sentencing. Lewis was allowed to bond out of jail on the condition he make good with the victim.

"He had promised to partially repay the victim in this case and they judge saw enough in this person to let him go to try and render some type of restitution and he fled and has not been seen since," explained Kraus.

With another year gone by, Lewis is now registered in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) - a database to help law enforcement agencies catch criminals on the run.

"It's just a matter of time to be quiet honest with you and to be quiet honest with this suspect before we put him up," said Kraus.

If you know of Lewis' whereabouts you're asked to call Lake Charles Police at 491-1311 or Crimestoppers at 439-2222. A reward is being offered in this case.

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