Cases detailed against former trustee of Grand Blanc Township accused of defrauding clients
GRAND BLANC TWP., MI — In June, a woman walked into the Grand Blanc Township Police Station to report fraud.
The woman, a resident of Grand Blanc Township, told an officer that she had ordered appliances from a local appliance store – Thomas Appliance – nearly a year prior, but had never received the items she had ordered.
According to a report from the Grand Blanc Township Police Department, the woman told the officer that she and her husband had ordered two washers and a dryer, appliances totaling more than $2,000.
“Mr. Thomas had many excuses throughout the year as to why the devices were not in place,” the officer wrote in his report, paraphrasing the victim. “She stopped at the store and discovered it was closed.”
The woman left and a police report was made. It was added to a stack of 22 other reports that were already in the Genesee County District Attorney’s office.
The report regarding the woman’s complaint bears a striking resemblance to the accounts of nearly two dozen other police reports obtained by MLive-The Flint Journal through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Four months after the woman’s complaint, the prosecutor’s office authorized charges in her case as well as 16 others against Kenneth Walter Thomas, the owner and operator of Thomas Appliance, which has since closed.
The charges include 15 counts of theft per conversion between $1,000 and $20,000 and two counts of theft per conversion between $200 and $1,000.
Thomas, 55, surrendered and was arraigned Wednesday, Oct. 12, by Genesee County District Court Judge Mark C. McCabe on the charges. Pleas of not guilty have been entered in his name.
Fred Meiers, the attorney representing Thomas in the case, declined to comment when contacted by The Journal.
Related: Former Grand Blanc Township trustee, business owner faces 15 felonies in theft case
Numerous cases alleging that Thomas defrauded clients included a similar modus operandi; they bought items, often paid for them in advance, and never received them. Afterwards, they received a host of excuses, including COVID-19 caused supply chain issues, or the items were simply out of stock.
Some customers have been refunded. Many did not.
The first of the charges was in October 2020. A man told police he purchased a refrigerator from Thomas Appliance on October 27, 2020. As with what is alleged in other cases, the appliance did not never delivered as promised.
The victim, in this case, called Thomas continuously, he told police in a report. Thomas told her that the item he ordered, a refrigerator costing just under $2,200, was out of stock due to the color purchased.
Another complaint, for which a police report was filed in May 2021, said when someone confronted Thomas about not receiving the devices he ordered, he was given loaner devices. instead of new ones.
An alleged victim recorded a conversation between her and Thomas, according to a police report. When she asked for a refund, Thomas told her no several times. When she said she was going to file a complaint with the police, Thomas told her to do so.
“(Thomas) said he was a former township administrator, vice president of the Boy Scouts, and voted Genesee County Citizen of the Year,” the officer wrote in the report, summarizing what he saw. in the video.
A report made in April followed a complaint from an alleged victim who spent more than $6,400 on new devices but received damaged items that appeared to be display models.
After requesting reimbursement, the victim received a check from Thomas, but the check was dishonoured. A second check was written and again the check was dishonoured.
Another customer ordered $10,000 worth of appliances but never received the items.
“There have been numerous fraud reports taken by our department since the store closed,” an officer wrote in a report.
Thomas is free thanks to a personal commitment.
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