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'Let down': Local contractor pleads guilty to seven counts of fraud

'It makes me crazy that there are people out there who could do this,' said fraud victim of contractor, who collected over $300,000 for work he did not complete
Fraud victim Laurie Saunders shares her story outside the Orillia courthouse after Brechin contractor Scott Eisemann pleaded guilty to seven counts of fraud involving multiple construction projects in the Orillia and Muskoka area.

An area contractor has pleaded guilty to seven counts of fraud after collecting more than $300,000 for work he never completed on multiple residential properties.

Dating back to 2018, Brechin-based contractor Scott Eisemann collected payment for a variety of residential projects in the Orillia and Muskoka area, but either left the projects incomplete or failed entirely to deliver on his promised work.

Crown attorney Neil Riley laid out multiple charges of fraud over $5,000 before the Ontario Court of Justice at the Orillia courthouse Thursday morning, going into detail in one instance in which Eisemann collected $125,000 from Hal Gaber.

Gaber, who had purchased property in Oro-Medonte, hired Eisemann in 2019 to tear down the existing structure and construct a new home. Between 2019 and 2020, Eisemann collected the funds in three instalments 

“After … months of waiting passed, (Gaber) discovered the accused had not commenced, despite funding and numerous assurances,” Riley said before the court. “Despite the money paid and the agreement … the accused did not commence any of the work on the victim’s property, nor were any building supplies delivered.”

In Gaber’s case, Eisemann collected funds even after filing for bankruptcy.

Scott Eisemman pleaded guilty Thursday to seven counts of fraud after collecting more than $300,000 for construction projects he never finished. Supplied Photo

“Mr. Eisemann had filed a consumer proposal for bankruptcy … well before (he) received the final $25,000 payment … despite no ability to honour the agreement.”

Eisemann was present at the courthouse Thursday morning as six of his fraud victims looked on while he entered guilty pleas on all seven counts of fraud.

The contractor was previously convicted of fraud in 2014, as well, court heard. Sentencing will take place on Feb. 8.

After discussions with the Crown attorney, victims said they anticipate the likely sentence will be around three-and-a-half years in prison — a sentence several do not think is long enough.

“This guy has taken tens of thousands of dollars out of seniors, young people, all ages, for his own benefit, for what conviction? Less than five years, if that's what happens — not enough,” said Kim Burt, who hired Eisemann to build an addition on a home he purchased.

“I'm also let down by the possible sentence — he did two years (for fraud) before,” said Liz Saunders. “Clearly, it wasn't enough because he came back out, started a new company and started doing this again.” 

Saunders paid Eisemann $59,000 to lift her cottage, build a new foundation, and set the cottage back down, but she said he only lifted the cottage and left it suspended for two years on wooden blocks without completing the agreed upon work.

“It makes me crazy that there are people out there who could do this,” Saunders said.

“Three-and-a-half years is just not enough for the emotional turmoil that he put us all through. In my case, it was my grandfather's cottage that he built in 1931 that the family has enjoyed, and it was up in the air, six feet in the air, for two years," Saunders said.

None of the victims present at the trial said they expect to be compensated for the funds they gave to Eisemann.

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Greg McGrath-Goudie

About the Author: Greg McGrath-Goudie

Greg has been with Village Media since 2021, where he has worked as an LJI reporter for CollingwoodToday, and now as a city hall/general assignment reporter for OrilliaMatters
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