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Helena construction worker accused of defrauding clients out of $91K

Bobby Francis Lowry

Bobby Francis Lowry

A 43-year-old Helena man is accused of stealing more than $91,000 by accepting payment for construction work that was never completed. 

Bobby Francis Lowry is charged with felony theft and felony deceptive practices (common scheme).

On Oct. 22, 2020, a Helena Police Department officer spoke with a complainant who said she hired the defendant in the spring of 2020 to do repairs on her home. She said he was hired to install windows, remove a chimney, replace a retaining wall and build a deck. She paid the defendant $15,000 up-front, and he allegedly completed some demolition and partially built some things but did not finish any of the projects. The complainant said she had to pay a different contractor $30,000 to complete the work. 

In the course of the investigation, the officer learned of others who had also hired the defendant but reported he did not complete the work.

In May 2020, a different complainant reported to the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff's Office that she and her husband had hired the defendant to do concrete work at their home. They said they paid the defendant $2,698 but he never completed the work.

Another homeowner said she hired the defendant to do work on her property in Seeley Lake. A property manager for the complainant entered into an agreement with the defendant and paid him $15,000 for work, but the defendant never completed it. Court documents state this caused more damage to the property since rain and snow could enter the structure. 

On Oct. 27, 2020, the investigating officer received a call from another complainant who said that in July 2020, she and her husband hired the defendant to replace their back patio. The defendant and his workers allegedly broke up the patio using jackhammers and did not replace the concrete. After a long period of attempting to contact the defendant and being unable to reach him, they filed a claim with insurance, which reimbursed them for the incident.

On Oct. 29, 2020, another complainant who owned a rental unit in Helena said he hired the defendant to do electrical work on the baseboard heaters. They agreed on a price of $1,500 and the complainant paid the defendant half of that. The defendant did not complete the work but allegedly charged the remainder to the complainant's credit card.

Another complainant reportedly hired the defendant to work on concrete steps and a patio at their East Helena residence. The defendant started demolishing the area but did not finish the job. The defendant allegedly promised that concrete would come soon before cutting contact. Their total loss was approximately $4,000.

On Dec. 9, 2020, another complainant told the investigating officer she met the defendant via Craigslist and purchased some rock from him. When discussing the addition she wanted to put on her Clancy home, the defendant talked her into hiring him to do the work. He was contracted to do all the work except electrical. The defendant was allegedly paid $13,000 but never finished any of the work. The incomplete roof then leaked and caused further damage. 

According to court documents, Probation and Parole reported the defendant also goes by the alias Bob Criner. Multiple complaints in Butte reported him for alleged fraud. 

In total, police estimate the defendant has stolen $91,650 by agreeing to perform services and never completing them. Of that, approximately $30,448 of the damages were in Lewis and Clark County.

All charged are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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