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MARATHON, October 28, 2019 – A Marathon man has been sentenced to Florida State Prison for bilking two Middle Keys senior citizens out of thousands of dollars under the guise of home repairs in the aftermath of the devastating Hurricane Irma.
On October 24, Acting Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Ruth Becker sentenced Tison Kennedy, 33, to 36 months in custody followed by 24 months of community control after he pleaded no contest to two counts of engaging in contracting without a license during a declared State of Emergency and three counts of grand theft from a person 65 or older. His sentence includes restitution to the victims and having no contact with them. Assistant state attorneys Kelly Dugan and Jon Byrne represented the state.
Judge Becker called Kennedy’s crimes “egregious, inexcusable” and said “this case is extremely troubling.” The victims are senior citizens with limited incomes and it was in the aftermath of the September 10, 2017, Category 4 hurricane, which destroyed or damaged thousands of houses in the Keys and left people struggling to rebuild. Then-Governor Rick Scott had declared a statewide State of Emergency on September 4, 2017, and it remained in effect when Kennedy’s offenses occurred.
In one case, a 69-year-old Grassy Key resident called Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies on April 6, 2018, to report that she gave Kennedy, whom she met through a repair crew, $370 to fix her roof and purchase sealant and three shingles. Kennedy provided only one container of sealant and because he didn’t do the work, her ceilings in the living room, master bathroom and master bedroom developed water stains.
Three days later, she gave Kennedy $300 to trim trees and remove debris from her property. Kennedy didn’t do the work. Then on February 17, she wrote Kennedy a check for $355 to pressure-clean and stain a deck and stairs. She paid for three containers of stain but only one was delivered, and again, Kennedy didn’t do the work. A few weeks later, the victim sent Kennedy a registered letter demanding her money back ($1,025) and she ended up paying another contractor $1,135 to fix her roof. She also shelled out another $1,000 to complete the other work Kennedy didn’t do.
In the other case, an 84-year-old Key Colony Beach woman who met Kennedy through the other victim hired Kennedy to perform repairs on her house and on February 10, 2018, gave him a check for $800 as a down payment to buy materials. Two days later, he told her he needed the rest of the money for materials and she gave him another $873. She also gave him an $1,875 deposit to replace her double front door.
Two days later, Kennedy said he needed the balance to buy the doors and the victim gave him another $1,875. The doors were never delivered and like in the other case, she sent Kennedy a registered letter demanding all her money back. Overall, she was owed $5,423.
In both cases, none of the money was repaid and investigators determined Kennedy does not hold a contracting license with Monroe County or the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.