Convictions might be reversed in case of Walworth contractor

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Darryl Enriquez
Monday, January 17, 2011
— The state Attorney General's Office has advised that the conviction of a woman linked to a Fontana-based home remodeling and building company be reversed because local prosecutors failed to disclose that the victims paid for a financial expert—known as a forensic accountant—used to uncover the misuse of construction money.

If that information had been disclosed, "there's reasonable probability that the jury would have assessed the credibility of the victims and their expert differently if made aware that the victims rather than the state were responsible for paying the vast majority of the expert's fees," a legal brief from the Attorney General's Office stated.

The case dates back to the 2005 trial of Beth E. Reeves. She was found guilty on nine felony counts—three each of theft by contractor, theft in a business setting and theft by false representation.

Evidence alleged that the couple used construction money for personal expenses, which included:

-- $29,905 in mortgage payments for their home.

-- $10,022 to Sentry Foods, various restaurants and miscellaneous entertainment.

-- $3,562 at Isthmus Sailboards.

-- $14,710 in undesignated cash payments.

Beth Reeves' husband, Arthur, pleaded guilty just before trial to similar charges. He spent 90 days in county jail and was placed on five years probation.

Beth Reeves received the same sentence, which she has not begun to serve because of the appeal.

Arthur Reeves, 54, and Beth Reeves, 51, operated Reeves Customer Builders. The couple has moved to Crested Butte, Colo., where he operates a building business. They were accused of cheating three couples out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The attorney general's brief was given to the appeals court in Waukesha, which is handling the case. It's important because the brief verifies that the attorney general cannot defend the prosecution's actions.

If the appeals court determines that Beth Reeves' convictions should be reversed, the case will return to Walworth County for another trial or outright dismissal. A hearing date on the issue has not been set for the appeals court.

A review hearing is set March 16 before Walworth County Judge James Carlson on the progress of Arthur Reeves' probation, restitution from the Reeves and possibly the future of the criminal case against Beth Reeves. The appeals court decision does not affect the criminal case against Arthur Reeves.

District Attorney Phillip Koss would say little about the case, other than he expects a trial date will be set.

Koss will need the victims to be cooperative state's witnesses if he wants the case to be retried. One of the victims, Linda Goes of Linn Township, said in a telephone interview that she would cooperate.

"This has hurt all of us so much," Goes said of the victims.

At the trial, the state's theory was that Beth Reeves misappropriated portions of the victims' payments for expenses unrelated to the remodeling projects. She was able to do this because she had control over the company's corporate bank accounts, according to court records.

According to a Walworth County criminal complaint against the couple:

On June 18, 2003, town of Linn police met with Lawrence Rayner, who said he hired Arthur Reeves to remodel and build an addition on his home. Reeves bid a total of $596,390 for the work to be completed by March 15, 2000.

A downpayment of $30,000 was paid. Rayner also established a working credit with Barker Building Supply in Delavan for the amount of $35,000 for the project.

Rayner reported he wrote eight additional checks totaling about $243,000 for draws to subcontractors. But Rayner was approached by some subcontractors who asked him to pay them directly to ensure that they were paid on a timely basis.

Rayner fired Arthur Reeves from the project for nonperformance of the contract. His last day on the job was April 25, 2000. Rayner ended up paying a total of $812,221 on the project. Another contractor finished the job.

On June 18, 2003, police met with Linda Goes, who hired Reeves to remodel her Linn Township home for $158,797. Arthur Reeves began work on Feb. 16, 1999. She gave him a downpayment of $32,745 and wrote eight additional checks to him that totaled about $225,000, which exceeded the original price quote.

Little was said about the third victims.

In July 1999, Goes learned that subcontractors were not being paid.

Beth Reeves in a deposition from a related lawsuit said her role in the corporation was to perform supervisory duties, answer phones and banking. She admitted that money was moved between corporate and personal checking accounts as needed. She said she generally wrote the checks because she handled banking transfers.

Last updated: 4:03 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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