Today, Kathy Prucnell, of the Anna Maria Islander Reporter, wrote that
Chris Arnold, who is represented by Jason M. Reid
of Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A., left the courthouse June 17th a free man.
Twelfth Circuit Judge Deno Economou is expected to decide what the former city contractor will pay in restitution for grand theft sometime after July 15.
The June hearing was the last of four hearings on the subject since the judge reserved it as part of Arnold’s sentence a year ago.
The judge ordered Arnold to serve 14 years probation and 100 hours of community service work after he pleaded no contest to a reduced grand theft charge in connection with bilking the city for $92,830.
Arnold, who contracted to perform work for the city, initially faced a first-degree felony scheme to defraud for failing to perform curb work after a former employee told city officials Arnold was painting over curbs marked for replacement.
Curbs on 11 streets in Key Royale and on Flotilla Drive were to be removed and replaced in three months — by Sept. 15, 2012 — under the 2012 city contract.
Arnold testified June 17 the curb markings were not representative of work he hadn’t done. “There were literally thousands of marks” on the curbs for utilities, he said.
Arnold also testified former Holmes Beach public works superintendent Joe Duennes verbally changed the contract, ordering curb grinding to fix drainage flow and remobilization efforts after Tropical Storm Debby, as well as adjustments for brick pavers.
Former building inspector Bob Shaffer testified for the defense, saying Arnold’s crews performed grinding work and he saw many dumpsters.
Arnold valued the extra work he performed without payment at $141,000.
On cross, Assistant State Attorney Lisa Chittaro showed Arnold paperwork for $2,263 in pipe repairs and HE acknowledged the payment. She added, he “was paid for it” if he “did it.”
Chittaro also questioned Arnold about his current work, income and assets.
Arnold testified he worked in jail, but since getting out hasn’t been able to find employment, except at the VFW. His earning ability has been “devastated” by the grand theft record, he testified.
Arnold told the court he owned property in Pennsylvania with his wife and others.
After the hearing, Chittaro said the financial inquiry will be used to make a monthly payment recommendation.
The city is looking for restitution of its claim for $92,830 in unperformed work, attorneys’ fees, an engineer’s fee and $3,069.19 police and staff time.
Chittaro and Arnold’s attorney, Jason Reid of Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett of Bradenton, are to submit legal arguments by July 15 to Economou.
After the hearing, Reid said their “strongest argument” is Arnold’s grinding work, which is acknowledged by city officials.
The former contractor for the city — who constructed trolley stops and dog park structures, a public works building and performed work at Grassy Point Preserve — left the courthouse with more to say.
“If I could go through it over again, I would have gone to trial. I have the evidence. I really do,” Arnold said.