Prosecutor plans to continue case against former Fontana contractor
ELKHORN A county prosecutor said Thursday her office intends to continue its theft case against Beth Reeves, a former Fontana-based home remodeling contractor.
Reeves’ nine felony convictions were found by the state Attorney General's Office to be flawed because evidence was withheld from the defense in her 2008 trial. The District 2 Court of Appeals on May 2 ordered the convictions reversed.
A new trial date for the case has not been set, and Reeves is free on a signature bond.
A Walworth County jury in January 2008 found Reeves guilty of three counts of theft by contractor, three counts of theft in a business setting and three counts of theft by fraud.
Beth and her husband, Arthur, were accused of cheating the families out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by using construction money for personal expenses, such as home mortgage payments, food and sailboards.
Arthur, 54, and Beth, 51, both spent time in jail and were placed on probation.
The Reeves operated Reeves Customer Builders. The couple have moved to Crested Butte, Colo., where he operates a building business, according to court records.
The attorney general’s office found that Walworth County District Attorney Phillip Koss had failed to disclose that the alleged victims paid for a financial expert—known as a forensic accountant—to search for the misuse of construction money.
“There's reasonable probability that the jury would have assessed the credibility of the victims and their expert differently if made aware that the victims rather than the state were responsible for paying the vast majority of the expert's fees," according to a brief by the attorney general’s office.
Defense attorney Michael Fitzgerald on Thursday told Walworth County Judge James Carlson that restitution paid to alleged victims should be returned to Reeves.
The amount in question is $3,629, shared among three families.
Carlson said he did not have the authority to order the return of restitution. A spokesman from the state Public Defender’s Office said her office also does not have authority to take back the money.
Carlson said the restitution could be applied against any civil judgments rendered against Reeves, but Fitzgerald argued a criminal court does not have that authority.
Fitzgerald said he would give Carlson a written argument before July 6.
If the case is not settled by that time, a trial date will be set, Carlson said.