Montana man who cheated Cedar Rapids Derecho victim out of over $15,000 sentenced

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A Montana man who prosecutors say stole more than $10,000 from a disabled Cedar Rapids derecho victim under the guise of being a handyman has been sentenced to time served for a mail fraud conviction.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Iowa said in a news release that under a plea agreement, William Allen Hurlbut Jr., 57, was sentenced to 14 months and 12 days in prison, which represented the period he has spent in federal and state custody since his arrest.

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U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams also ordered Hurlburt, of Belgrade, Montana, to spend up to 180 days in a halfway house upon his release and make $15,892.79 in restitution to his victim. He must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term.

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Uprooted trees are seen as Cedar Rapids residents clean up from the August 2020 derecho.
Uprooted trees are seen as Cedar Rapids residents clean up from the August 2020 derecho.

The news release said he came to Iowa after the Aug. 10, 2020, derecho caused widespread devastation and began doing repair work under the trade name Trinity 321.

Shortly after arriving in Iowa, it said, Hurlbut met a disabled resident whose home needed more than $10,000 in repairs and told the resident he could fix the damage if he was advanced the necessary funds. Hurlbut did not have a contractor license but had obtained a local cell phone number, the release said.

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It said Hurlbut spent the money on gambling and other expenses, running up a bill of more than $22,000 at an Iowa casino in October 2020.

Over at least six months, Hurlbut did little to no work on the property, using the funds advanced to him to buy building materials that he said he needed for the project, then returned, keeping the cash refunds, the news release said. It said he also had the victim's vehicle towed to a junkyard without permission and persuaded the customer in February 2021 to loan him $1,000 for lodging and food, which he never repaid.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller's website offers advice about how to avoid being scammed on home repairs here.

Omar Waheed is a staff writer for the Des Moines Register. He can be reached at owaheed@registermedia.com.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Montana man who cheated Cedar Rapids Derecho victim out of over $15,000 sentenced.