Montana man who scammed Derecho victim out of $15,000 sentenced to jail


He used the insurance money to gamble and pay personal debts

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Montana man who cheated a Cedar Rapids landlord out of more than $15,000 in derecho repairs to go play instead has been sentenced to more than a year in federal prison and up to 180 days in a halfway house upon his release.

William Allen Hurlbut Jr., 57, of Belgrade, Montana, was convicted in February of one count of mail fraud. He admitted to tricking owner Wayne Jones into signing a contract and advancing him the money in September 2020 for siding and roof repairs.

The August 10, 2020 derecho had caused damage to the roof, siding, fences and interior of his Jones home, according to court documents. Jones was in a wheelchair due to a physical disability and was dependent on work promised by Hurlbut.

But instead of fixing Jones’ house, Hurlbut took the insurance funds Jones had advanced to him and used them to gamble and pay for personal items and expenses.

As part of the scheme, Hurlbut made purchases at a home improvement store, but then returned the items and pocketed the money. The fraud continued until March 2021, according to court documents. The investigation revealed that, over a two-week period in October 2020, Hurlbut spent at least $22,532 playing at the Riverside Casino & Golf Course.

On January 25, 2021, Hurlbut ordered a tow truck to take Jones’ vehicle from the backyard to a junkyard without buying it or getting his permission. In February 2021, Hurlbut persuaded Jones to loan him $1,000 for room and board, which Hurlbut never repaid.

As of March 2021, Hurlbut had done little to no work on the project despite the cash advance.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge CJ Williams sentenced Hurlbut to 14 months and 12 days in jail, which is the time he has already served in federal and state custody since his arrest, and up to 180 days in a house transition to his release. .

He is to serve three years of probation after his prison sentence and was ordered to pay Jones $15,893 in restitution.

Hurlbut is being held in the custody of the U.S. Marshal until he is released into the halfway house.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Timothy L. Vavricek and investigated by the Cedar Rapids Police Department.

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