GREENFIELD — The owner of an Indianapolis construction company who took money from dozens of Hancock County homeowners and then never followed through with the work has pleaded guilty to 14 counts of home improvement fraud and agreed to pay back the money he stole.
Michael Friery, formerly of Fishers, accepted a plea agreement this week with the Hancock County Prosecutor’s Office. That agreement has been taken under advisement by the court until Friery appears for sentencing in the coming weeks.
Each of Friery’s 14 charges is a Class D felony carrying a penalty of six months to three years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines. Prosecutor Brent Eaton said Friery has agreed to pay restitution to each of his Hancock County victims, totaling about $85,000.
“Our goal was to see all the victims were made whole,” Eaton said. “We are happy that we were able to hold him accountable for what occurred, and I’m sure the victims are happy to put this behind them.”
Local law enforcement began investigating Friery in 2013 after several Hancock County homeowners reported repairs they had paid for were never completed.
In each case, a sales representative visited their homes after a hailstorm caused damaged to properties in the area.
The sales representative offered roof inspections and an estimate for repair. The homeowners then paid up front for a portion of the labor and materials, court documents state. Many had signed contracts that stated work would begin in 45 days.
Police then contacted Friery, who said he would complete the work as soon as he had the money to do so. His company, Veteran Construction, went out of business a short time later.
Friery turned himself in to police in February 2014 and was charged with 42 felonies — 14 counts of theft and 28 counts of home improvement fraud.
Officials also pursued the same charges against Friery’s bookkeeper, Kurt Beard of Noblesville.
Beard was listed as a co-defendant in the case, but in April, prosecutors agreed not to pursue the criminal case against him provided he paid restitution to the victims.
Beard recently filed for bankruptcy, citing nearly $1 million in claims against him personally and Veteran Construction.
A sentencing hearing for Friery has not been scheduled, but Eaton said he expects Friery to serve two years in the Hancock County Jail in addition to some time on probation.