2nd arrest made in HD Custom Homes fraud case

A second arrest has been made in a home construction fraud scheme in Charlotte County.

The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Monday that Matthew Harden, a co-owner of HD Custom Homes, turned himself in to Hamilton County authorities Monday morning.

Harden, 53, was arrested on a warrant out of Charlotte County and was later released on bond.

Stephen Dukes (Credit: SCSO booking photo)

His partner, Stephen Dukes, 48, was arrested Thursday in Sarasota County and released on bond.

CCSO issued warrants last week for the two owners of HD Custom Homes, who they say scammed dozens of people.

The investigation was opened in late 2018. Deputies say there were 52 cases regarding HD Custom Homes. In some cases, the victims had signed contracts with the business for a new home, and in some cases paid a deposit, only to receive nothing in return. Others, deputies say, had a home completed but still had a “punch list” – or unfinished items – that needed to be done.

Those who say they were scammed by the pair are glad to be one step closer to a conclusion, though most expect to get their money back.

“I’m thrilled. We’ve been waiting for two years now,” said Karen Brock of Port Charlotte.

“Relieved. Because I really don’t like to see these guys out there for this long basically living probably off the money that they pilfered from us homeowners and people who wanted a nice home,” said Fred Marcussen.

He claims to be out $60,000 after he had to pay for work Harden and Dukes didn’t finish on his South Gulf home. He said he just wants to see them held accountable.

Harden and Dukes each face 13 charges that include 12 counts of misapplication of construction funds and one count of scheming to defraud.

Writer:Jackie Winchester
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