A Cole County contractor has pleaded no-contest to multiple counts of theft and deceptive business practices on Thursday through an Alford plea.
An Alford plea means that Jinson did not necessarily admit to the charges, but admitted to the evidence being overwhelming and not in his favor.
Ken Jinson has been placed on five years supervised probation for four counts of fraud and four counts of theft. He must pay restitution as a condition of parole. Otherwise, he faces four separate sentences of up to seven years in prison.
Douglas Bledsoe, one of the customers Jinson allegedly stole from, said he commissioned him to build a workshop and remodel his basement in 2015. The work never got done and Bledsoe contacted the Attorney General’s office, which eventually took him to court.
ABC 17 News reported Jinson was accused of stealing a total of $22,000 from four customers in Cole County.
Bledsoe said he paid $17,000 upfront for his projects but he doesn’t think he’ll ever see that money again.
“I’d rather him just go ahead and serve his time and not really try to pay the restitution because I’m afraid he’ll go out there and try to rip other people off,” he said. “They would be in the same place I am to try and pay us back.”
The payment review hearing will be Nov. 7 at 1 p.m.
Jinson’s attorney said in court that “Mr. Jinson believes if this were to proceed to trial, a jury would have enough evidence to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The Attorney General’s office released a statement from AG Josh Hawley this afternoon:
“Attempts to take advantage of Missourians through dishonest and illegal business practices will not be tolerated. I hope Ken Jinson’s conviction will serve as a notice for anyone who violates our consumer protection laws. My office will find you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”
Hawley recommends asking for references for past jobs and paying by check instead of cash. Hawley also recommended getting a written contract done before work is done but Bledsoe said he had a contract with Jinson that was never honored.
In the past two years, for any construction job, Bledsoe said he’s paid for the work after it was done.
“I just feel kind of stupid really that I let him take advantage of me like that,” he said. “But that’s part of life, I guess. You just have to be really careful.”