Santa Rosa County officials ordered former Pensacola contractor Matt Banks to return more than $460,000 in deposits to his clients.
The Santa Rosa County Building Code Adjustment and Appeals Committee met Wednesday, voting unanimously to force the banks to return $462,382 to six families after failing to complete contractually mandated 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.
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“Even if you’ve already revoked his license, (I recommend) for each of those 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 more than 70 customers and allegedly demanding a 50% down payment for construction work he allegedly never completed.
The banks received many complaints over a period of several months, and the situation finally came to a head in three days in August:
- August 9: Banks filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy as an individual and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for Banks Construction LLC.
- August 10: The Santa Rosa County Board of Building Code Adjustments and Appeals permanently revoked Banks’ contractor license. Banks was arrested the same day when Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office deputies executed a Pensacola Police Department warrant charging him with theft after failing to reimburse a customer.
- August 11: The Escambia County Contractors Competency Board revoked his license. Banks’ attorney has 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 asked what action the Board could take in light of the Bank’s apparently fraudulent business plan of taking customers’ money and never completing projects. .
“Almost half a million dollars this man stole from the citizens of our county by fraud,” he said. “What can we do as counsel to get the Attorney General to issue a warrant for this man’s arrest?”
Dannheisser told the board that since they are appointed officials, they can ask the state’s attorney’s office “to act as quickly as possible to help victims in these cases.”
“I know they’re working on it,” Dannheisser said.
The state’s attorney’s office provided a statement to the News Journal, saying they were waiting for the Farm Law Enforcement Office to complete their investigation.
“The State’s Attorney’s Office is aware of numerous complaints against Mr. Banks,” the statement said. “These complaints are still being investigated and the state’s attorney’s office is working with the Department of Agriculture to reconcile these complaints.”
The scandal around Banks, along with alleged wrongdoing by other local contractors, has sparked talk of local policy reform regarding contractor complaints, although there has been little action at this point. .
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The week after Banks revoked its licenses, the Escambia County Board of Commissioners discussed a possible ‘reset’ of its contractor skills board due to the length 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 for reviewing contractor complaints, but he said he had to be due process for the accused, limiting how quickly authorities can act on complaints.
Benjamin Johnson can be reached at [email protected] or 850-435-8578