Former MH roofing contractor pleads guilty to taking money, doing no work

Photo: John Downing

A former Mountain Home roofing contractor entered a guilty plea to charges in three criminal cases in which he was accused of taking money for jobs and never doing the work during a session of Baxter County Circuit Court Thursday.

Formal sentencing for 30-year-old John Downing was continued until March 19 to allow him time to receive funds that will be used to pay victim restitution. It was announced in open court, the sentence might be modified based on the amount of restitution Downing can pay.

According to the probable cause affidavit in the initial case filed against Downing, it is alleged that in late May 2018 he entered into a contract with a homeowner to put a new roof on the man’s residence. The victim paid Downing $2,250 in advance for the job.

After the agreement was reached, Downing was reported not to have returned to the victim’s house to install the new roof.

The victim told investigators he made several calls to Downing and heard a number of excuses as to why the work had not started. Downing told the victim at various times work on his house would start the next day, or the victim’s house was the next one in line to be done.

After several calls, Downing stopped returning the victim’s calls. The victim told investigators no materials had been delivered and no work done.

In early August 2018, occupants of a residence in Mountain Home told authorities they had contracted with Downing and his company, Highbridge Roofing and Construction, to do repairs on their roof for $1,700.

The victims told investigators they went to their bank, obtained a cashier’s check for $1,700 and gave it to Downing, who was alleged to have cashed it the same day.

Again, the victims were told a number of stories as to why the work had not started. Downing said rainy weather had put him behind. On another date, he said the work would be completed in two weeks.

Finally, Downing called the residents saying he did not have time to take on their job and would refund the $1,700 they had paid him. He did not keep that pledge, according to investigators.

Further attempts to contact Downing were unsuccessful.

In late October 2018, a homeowner reported he had contracted with Downing for roofing work. Downing told the victim a down payment of $4,700 would be required. The victim paid Downing, but no work was ever done.

The homeowner required Downing’s company to have a current contractor’s license, general liability insurance and worker’s compensation coverage during the life of the contract.

The victim found Downing’s contracting license had expired, and insurance coverage had been canceled due to non-payment. He contacted Downing and said he wanted his money back.

While Downing promised to have the money back to the victim in a few days, he did not make good on that promise either.

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