NORTH PORT Fla. (North Port Sun) - The second owner of a Suncoast home business turned himself in.
Matthew Harden, 53, and his partner Stephen Dukes, 47, owned the now-defunct HD Custom Homes in Englewood. Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office detectives issued warrants for each man last week, charging them with one count each of fraud and 13 counts of misapplication of construction funds. Matthew Harden turned himself in to law enforcement Monday in Hamilton County, Florida.
Dukes was arrested last week in Osprey on the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office warrant and taken to the Sarasota County Jail. Due to COVID-19, he wasn’t transferred to the Charlotte County Jail. His bond was set at $54,000. As he bonded out of jail a few hours later, a half-dozen former customers confronted the builder to pepper him with questions about their unfinished homes and lost savings while he looked for a way around the crowd and to his vehicle.
The two are accused of leaving more than 50 homeowners with unfinished homes — in some cases never-started — while cleaning out construction accounts. Former customers including subcontractors estimate the pair took more than $8 million in deposits and services.
Harden was arrested Monday in Hamilton County, according to a CCSO spokesman.
Records show he was booked to the jail there without bond on the out-of-county warrant just before 9 a.m. The booking sheet lists his home address as Tina Place in Key Largo.
CCSO Detective Kevin Bordner with the Economic Crimes Unit investigated 52 cases since 2018.
Former customer Harriet Zimmerman has been waiting a long time for the pair’s arrest.