Local News

Cary contractor charged with swindling disabled homeowner

Posted December 22, 2010 5:52 p.m. EST
Updated December 23, 2010 12:23 p.m. EST

— A Cary contractor was charged Wednesday with taking money from a Youngsville homeowner and not doing the requested home renovations.

Ashley Cameron Rhodes, 44, of 2210 Stephens Road in Cary, was charged with exploiting a disabled or elderly person, three counts of obtaining property by false pretense and two counts of writing worthless checks.

Jimmy Ray, 63, said he hired Rhodes in August 2009 to fix up his Youngsville home so he could sell it. He said Rhodes worked for about nine months before disappearing.

"He took all my money, vanished and I haven't seen him since," said Ray, who is disabled and has used a wheelchair for more than 30 years.

Ray said he gave Rhodes $76,500 to not only cover building materials and labor but also a couple of personal loans to the contractor. Arrest warrants state that Rhodes wrote two checks to Ray late last year, totaling $4,700, but both bounced.

Large sections of Ray's home remain a work in progress. Flooring and siding are missing, cabinets are unfinished and a deck wasn't built.

"He took my whole life away from me, just about," Ray said.

Rhodes, who worked for a family business, Rhodes & Son Builders, ignored Ray's repeated attempts to contact him in recent months, warrants state.

He was being held Wednesday in the Wake County jail under a $50,000 bond and was expected to appear in court Thursday morning.

In an e-mail Wednesday evening, Rhodes’ wife, Robin Rhodes, denied Ray’s claims, saying her husband didn’t complete the work because Ray threatened him.

Franklin County investigators have said they also are searching for Robin Rhodes, in the case, which Robin Rhodes has denied.

"I'd like to have my money back that he took," Ray said. "That's what I would like to happen, and I'd like to get my house finished, too."

He said it could cost him another $15,000 to complete his home repairs, but he doesn't have the money. So, he is relying on the kindness of friends, including Glenn Lee, to finish the work on his house.

"I'm trying to help somebody, especially at Christmas," Lee said. "A lot of people have it worse than we have. I'm just trying to make it better for him."