A Baton Rouge contractor accused of fraud in four parishes, primarily over flood related work, is now facing similar counts in St. John the Baptist Parish over work he was hired to do after a 2016 tornado, authorities said.
St. John Sheriff Mike Tregre said Wednesday arrest warrants have been issued for Matthew Morris, owner of Complete Construction Contractors in Baton Rouge, on counts of home improvement fraud, misapplication of payments by contractor and insurance fraud.
Tregre said the counts stem from allegations that Morris cheated victims whose homes were damaged in the EF2 tornado that struck the parish in February 2016.
The new counts in St. John make the fifth parish in which Morris is facing criminal allegations over his business activities.
In May, investigators with the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office issued warrants for counts of bank fraud and illegal transmission of monetary funds over a $250,000 line of credit that Morris took out with South Louisiana Bank of Houma.
Morris used property liens that he placed on some of his contracting customers as collateral for the loan. Customers who had the liens have challenged their validity, sheriff's deputies have said.
In Livingston, Morris is facing contractor fraud counts not only in unincorporated Livingston Parish but also in Walker and Denham Springs.
Morris will be booked on the St. John counts when he can be transported to the Sherman Walker Corrections Center in LaPlace, Tregre said. Morris is currently being held at the Livingston Parish Jail.
Morris, 39, 21313 Turkey Creek Drive, Baton Rouge, has been indicted in East Baton Rouge, Ascension and Livingston parishes on counts including contractor and insurance fraud, filing false public records, theft and extortion.
A Baton Rouge contractor accused of defrauding victims of the August flooding in three paris…
Morris has maintained he is "100 percent" innocent of the charges against him. His attorneys have said the allegations are really contractual disputes that belong in civil court. More recently, Morris has said he agreed to lift the property liens he placed against his customers.
Law enforcement agencies have said Morris charged clients for work he didn't do for homeowners flooded in August, taking most of their insurance proceeds before giving them a large final bill to finish the job on their gutted homes.
When victims balked at the big bills and terminated their contracts, Morris would file liens against their homes for fees and charges that the victims had challenged, though Morris maintained they were legitimate or called for in the contract. The liens, nonetheless, hindered people's ability to finish restoration of their homes.
Tregre said victims in St. John the Baptist Parish continue to come forward to file complaints against Morris. Additional counts against him are expected.