Judith and William Smith had been dreaming of remodeling their Canton home.
They planned to convert the garage into an extra room and fix up other parts of their home for a total of $30,500.
That all changed when the man contracted to handle those renovations, 44-year-old Ronald Dean Murphy, was jailed Monday on allegations he took money for two planned home projects in Floyd County and didn’t complete them.
Murphy also faces theft charges in Cherokee and Cobb counties, according to jail records and police reports obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Murphy remains in the Floyd County jail on a $35,000 bond. He faces two conversion of payments for real property improvement charges and an exploitation of disabled adults, elder persons and residents charge.
Due to the arrest, the Smiths are now out $28,500 and face homelessness.
“He crushed our dreams,” Judith Smith told Channel 2 Action News. “He totally just took our dreams and crushed them.”
Murphy told the Smiths it would take two weeks for the two projects they needed completed on their home, according to an Aug. 10 police report from Cherokee County. But when they hadn’t heard from him in months, they began receiving calls from companies requesting to be paid for services completed. A further investigation showed Murphy owed those companies more than $21,000.
The Smiths also alleged Murphy, who police said works for JDM Contracting, consistently increased charges on air conditioning repairs but offered to pay the finalized $9,400 cost since “it was his fault,” according to the report.
“They just want the work completed and for (Murphy) to pay the companies that he owes so they don’t have any liens against their home,” Cherokee County Sheriff’s Deputy John C. Brandon wrote in his report.
They are now staying with their daughter, who also contracted with Murphy and had the same issues.
Authorities were first alerted to Murphy’s alleged crimes in May when an Acworth woman, Jessica Smith, told the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office she paid him a $2,200 deposit to build a new deck on her home and lay new tile flooring, laminate flooring and baseboard-trim carpet.
Jessica Smith told police Murphy “completed some of the work but it was not up to the standards she expected,” Cherokee Deputy Christopher G. Wakefiled wrote in his report.
Murphy asked for another $2,000 for supplies to complete the work, but police said he never showed up to finish it after Smith paid him.
Two reports were filed against Murphy in Floyd County in May and June.
On May 20, Billy Joe Brown told authorities Murphy was supposed to complete month-long work on property Brown owned in the 500 block of Burnett Ferry Road. Brown paid $14,000 for materials and labor, but police said little work was done.
“Murphy had always promised, ‘I will finish it soon,’ and gave multiple excuses, but has not done any appreciable work to the residence,” Floyd County police Officer David Williams noted in his report.
Williams said the only work he saw was “some wood on a house as if to block it off.” Another residence on the property was covered with a roofing wrap and furring strips.
Police said Murphy called and sent them an email of a spreadsheet listed with work and expenses for the job, but Williams noted there were several charges listed for work that wasn’t completed.
Then on June 20, police say Diane Brown hired Murphy to rebuild a deck and complete other work on her home, including repairing a retaining wall and cutting some trees.
“The suspect asked how much she had to spend on the project and the complainant advised that she had $20,000 to $25,000,” Floyd County police Officer Ojilvia Lom wrote.
Murphy said he could do the work for $25,000 and Brown paid him $22,000 up front.
But as with the other cases, “the suspect has made excuse after excuse for not completing the job,” Lom wrote.
Less than a month later, a separate Canton couple accused Murphy of again skipping out on a renovation job and making off with their money. They paid Murphy $18,000 for work on a burned-down home that was quoted for $48,000, according to a police report, but Murphy completed only a small amount of work.
A complaint was also filed in Cobb County about services Murphy allegedly failed to complete on a Marietta home. In that case, the victims paid $8,000 “as an advance for materials which were never purchased,” according to an arrest warrant issued Aug. 30. Murphy faces a charge of theft by conversion of payments for real property improvements in Cobb.
He also faces four theft by conversion of real home improvements and two elder exploitation charges in Cherokee.