Santa Rosa County orders Pensacola contractor Matt Banks to pay over $460K in restitution

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Santa Rosa County officials ordered former Pensacola contractor Matt Banks to pay back more than $460,000 in down payments to his clients.

The Building Code Board of Adjustment and Appeals of Santa Rosa County met Wednesday, voting unanimously to make banks Banks give $462,382 back to six families after failing to finish contractually obligated work. Among the six families, the lowest amount of restitution ordered was $41,500 and the highest was $105,000.

After the hearings, County Attorney Tom Dannheisser asked the board to consider revoking Banks' license again, even though it was permanently revoked in August.

Matt Banks, owner of Banks Construction LLC, had his contractor license revoked in Escambia and Santa Rosa County on Aug. 10 and Aug. 11, respectively. He has also filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Matt Banks, owner of Banks Construction LLC, had his contractor license revoked in Escambia and Santa Rosa County on Aug. 10 and Aug. 11, respectively. He has also filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

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"Even though you’ve already revoked his license, (I recommend) for each of these six cases his license should be revoked," Dannheisser said.

The board then voted unanimously to revoke Banks' license.

Banks is accused of stealing money from over 70 clients, and allegedly would require 50% down payments for construction work that he reportedly never finished.

Banks received numerous complaints over a span of months, and the situation ultimately came to a head over three days in August:

  • Aug. 9: Banks filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy as an individual and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for Banks Construction LLC.

  • Aug. 10: Santa Rosa County Building Code Board of Adjustments and Appeals permanently revoked Banks' contractor license. Banks was arrested the same day when Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office deputies fulfilled a Pensacola Police Department warrant charging him with larceny after failure to refund a client.

  • Aug. 11: Escambia County Contractor Competency Board revoked his license. Banks' attorney filed a motion to convert his Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing to Chapter 11 and merge his individual case with his business case.

Board member Gary Mooneyham then questioned what action the board can take in light of Bank's seemingly fraudulent business plan of taking clients' money and never completing projects.

"Almost half a million dollars this man has stolen from the citizens of our county through fraud," he said. "What can we do as a board to get the state attorney to issue an arrest warrant for this man?"

Dannheisser told the board that, since they are appointed officials, they may ask the State Attorney's Office to "move with all possible speed to assist the victims in these matters."

"I know they’re working on it," Dannheisser said.

The State Attorney's Office provided a statement to the News Journal, saying that they are waiting for the Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement to finish its investigation.

"The Office of the State Attorney is aware of numerous complaints against Mr. Banks," the statement reads. "Those complaints remain under investigation, and the Office of the State Attorney is working in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture to reconcile these complaints."

The scandal around Banks, as well as alleged misdeeds perpetuated by other local contractors, has sparked talk of reforming local policy around contractor complaints, though there has been little action at this stage.

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A shake-up: Escambia County looking to 'reset' Contractor Competency Board after Matt Banks scandal

The week after Banks had his licenses revoked, the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners discussed a potential "reset" of its Contractor Competency Board because of the amount of time it took the body to act on complaints against Banks and other alleged bad actors.

State Sen. Doug Broxson hosted a roundtable with law enforcement and government officials Sept. 8 to discuss streamlining the process of reviewing contractor complaints, however he said there must be due process for the accused, limiting how quickly officials can act on complaints.

Benjamin Johnson can be reached at bjohnson@pnj.com or 850-435-8578

This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Santa Rosa revokes Matt Banks license again, orders more restitution