Fort Worth Star Telegram: Texas man started home projects across Texas. Police say he was a fraud

This man started home projects across Fort Worth. Police say he was a fraud

February 28, 2018 02:03 PM  •  Updated July 23, 2018 10:09 AM

A New Orleans man was in custody Wednesday, accused by Fort Worth police of operating a fraudulent home-remodeling operation in which he would stop work after receiving payment.

Police identified the suspect as Ernest Thibodeaux, 45, and said he had gone by the name of Kris Malachi while he worked in Fort Worth.

Thibodeaux was also in custody on warrants from Alabama and Mississippi for charges of theft by deception and home repair fraud.

Authorities arrested Thibodeaux on Tuesday after an investigation that began in late January when a woman reported an apparent home project fraud.

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The woman told police she got an estimate for work on her kitchen, electrical, plumbing and decking from a Fort Worth business. Thibodeaux, using the name Malachi, gave her the estimate, police said.

Days later, Thibodeaux contacted her again, telling her he was no longer with the company and could do the work at a new estimate of $28,000.

Authorities believe the suspect was involved in other home project frauds in the city. Work that was completed did not meet city code, and no building permits were obtained by the suspect, police said.

Thibodeaux may have identified himself as a New Orleans police officer, but he was never on the force, police said.

Thibodeaux remained in jail Wednesday in lieu of $2,500 bail on a charge of theft between $2,500 and $30,000.

Other North Texas residents who may have fallen victim to Thibodeaux are advised to contact law enforcement.