Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) State Crime Alerts (b)
A Cedar Rapids contractor who scammed victims of the 2020 Iowa derecho pled guilty today in federal court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Scott Gregory Adkins, age 48, who did business as “Adkins Home Improvements LLC,” was convicted of one count of wire fraud.
On August 10, 2020, a severe storm, commonly referred to as a derecho, struck multiple counties in the Northern District of Iowa, as well as other parts of the States of Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. Media reporting on the event, citing public and private sources, have estimated that the derecho, with winds exceeding 100 mph, caused an estimated total of $7.5 billion in damage across the affected states. The derecho caused long-duration power outages across the Northern District of Iowa and the larger region, millions of acres of crops were damaged or destroyed, and numerous semi-trucks were blown off major interstate highways. Just within the city of Cedar Rapids, power was cut to nearly all of the city’s residents by the derecho, and damage estimates indicate that over 1,000 housing units were rendered unlivable while hundreds of additional homes suffered damage. Many of the city’s businesses were also damaged during the storm.
In a plea agreement, Adkins admitted that, from December 2020, through March 2022, he devised and perpetrated a scheme to defraud his customers, including victims of the 2020 Iowa derecho. Adkins organized “Adkins Home Improvements LLC” in October 2020, approximately two months after the derecho. By means of “Adkins Home Improvements LLC,” Adkins offered home repair services to victims of the derecho, as well as other individuals in the Cedar Rapids area who needed projects completed in the tight-labor, post-derecho construction market.
As a part of his scheme, Adkins offered to provide construction services and materials to prospective customers of “Adkins Home Improvements LLC,” including but not limited to victims of the derecho. Adkins provided estimates to those customers and demanded substantial advance deposits or downpayments before undertaking work on the projects. Instead of completing the projects, Adkins spent some of the advanced funds on personal expenses, including but not limited to food, and transferred other such funds to a family member by means of a mobile payment service. Adkins also made false statements and excuses to his customers about the status of their projects to conceal his illicit use of the funds and to lull his customers into a false sense of security. Adkins stole over $150,000 as part of his scheme, and one of his victims was an elderly widow who suffered roof damage to her Cedar Rapids residence from the derecho.
Sentencing before United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand will be set after a presentence report is prepared. Adkins remains in custody of the United States Marshal pending sentencing. Adkins faces a possible maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release following any imprisonment.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Timothy L. Vavricek and was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Cedar Rapids Police Department.
Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.
The case file number is 23-CR-66.
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