(Seguin) -- A local contractor who defrauded thousands of dollars from customers over the last 10 years is headed to prison.
Brent Beicker, owner of Brent Beicker Enterprises, was handed down the sentence by State District Judge Gary Steel. Beicker, who reportedly specializes in tile/granite flooring and countertop installation, has remained under the watchful eyes of both the Guadalupe County Sheriff's Office and the FBI.
Assistant County Attorney Bill Squires says the sentence handed down Wednesday afternoon ends years of Beicker defrauding customers.
"We really appreciate the consideration that Judge Steel gave to the case and coming to his conclusion to sentence Mr. Beicker to 10 years in Texas Department of Corrections Institutional Division. This was not a probated sentence. This was an actual to do sentence meaning Mr. Beicker is going to TDCJ. He is eligible for parole before the 10 years, but that is a determination made by the parole department at the state level. As of now, Mr. Beicker is in custody and is awaiting transport to TDCJ," said Squires.
Squires, who tells KWED that he remembers working on one of his cases in 2009, says Beicker over the years developed his own pattern of taking money without returning a product or service.
"What he would do is when he got caught or when a customer reported him and that rose to the level of criminal actions, law enforcement would file with our office and then he would pay it back. Ultimately, it got to be to the point where there was just too many people. He developed a pattern of purposeful collusion and defrauding of these citizens. So I would say 10 years. That's a rough estimate. Again, we don't know exactly how many folks are out there. We did an extraordinarily thorough job investigating. We went and pulled legal documents from surrounding counties. He actually had a criminal case of a very similar nature in Montgomery County. I think he defrauded somebody down there to the chain of $20,000. So we don't know exactly who else out there but we believe, we're very confident we've identified the Guadalupe County folks, but he was all over the place," said Squires.
Squires says the 38-year old business owner managed to compile a long list of victims -- many of which have waited a long time for some type of action to be taken against him.
"He was acting as a contractor who would take on jobs, take payment in full or in part and not complete the work or do it in a way that was shoddy and substandard to a criminal level. He finally got in way over his head and was essentially stealing from Peter to pay Paul. That caught up to him. We identified more and more victims as the investigation continued. Articles put out in the local paper helped bring more victims to light. We received a substantial restitution payment from Mr. Beicker today (Thursday), but unfortunately, we just don't know how deep the rabbit hole goes. There could be people out there that haven't heard about him who have given up hope. We are extremely thankful that he wasn't able to buy his way out of trouble like he has been in the past. Simply, you can't buy justice in Guadalupe County and this result proves that," said Squires.
Squires says it took a total team effort to piece together all the evidence in this case. He says there were lots of hours spent piecing together all of the details of Beicker's crimes.
"Well there were a variety of factors that came into play on this case. As with most types of white collar crime and fraud, this was a very difficult fact pattern to unravel. It took multiple agencies to come together. Leading the charge was the sheriff's department, Sheriff (Arnold) Zwicke and Detective Robert Murphy along with Texas DPS Special agent Sharleigh Drake who is tasked by DPS with the FBI in San Antonio. We had meetings with other federal agencies that had worked on the Russell Erxleben case, who was Mr. Beicker's uncle. This came to us a little over a year ago through a series of meetings. We had been contacted by a number of customers who had been defrauded by Mr. Beicker over a period of years," said Squires.
Squires says despite efforts by Beickers' attorney, the commitment of legal justice in Guadalupe County stands firm.
"His attorney was requesting probation. They cited the fact that he had paid back a portion of the restitution that he was owed but Allison Lanty, the assistant county attorney who argued that the punishment hearing today basically made the argument that we feel deeply here in this office that you can't buy your way to a just outcome. While we're glad that he or I should say his family was able to come up with money to pay back some of the people who he stole from -- quite simply -- that doesn't negate the harm that he did and the fact that he did it purposely and knowingly and he misapplied judiciary property that he took from the citizens of the county," said Squires.
Squires says he hopes the outcome of this case serves as a message to others who partake in white collar crime.
"It's a heck of a lot easier to steal with a pen than it is with a gun. That's what he was doing. There's people going to prison in this community for armed robbery, but just because this guy was affluent -- you know they're driving around in a Mercedes and have a million dollar house, he got that from stealing from people. I think it was a huge, huge problem. We really were concerned that he wasn't going to get sent to prison," said Squires.
Squires says Judge Steele ordered that Beicker be transferred to TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) as soon as possible. He says because it's a non-violent offense, he could possibly be up for parole more quickly than the 10 years but that length is still to be determined.