The owner of a Detroit Lakes business has been charged in Becker County District Court with two felony counts of theft by swindle after numerous customer complaints.
Monty Thomas Becker, 41, of Frazee owned Silver Leaf Home Center, which is now closed, and is accused of fraudulently obtaining more than $63,000 in down payments between March 1, 2018, and Aug. 31, 2018. The criminal complaint says customers lost a total of $39,427.
In some cases partial refunds were made, or orders were partially filled. Becker said he used some down payments from later customers to fill orders for earlier customers, according to court records.
The complaint says one couple paid $11,527 for cabinets that were never delivered as promised. They called Becker, and the next day received an email saying that Silver Leaf was permanently closed. They contacted the cabinet manufacturer, and were told that no order for their home had ever been received.
Another customer put $9,608 down on a cabinet order, to be delivered in three months. Becker ceased communications, according to the complaint, and the cabinets were never delivered. The vendor said the cabinets had never been ordered.
Another customer paid Becker $13,350 on Oct. 11, 2018 for goods and services that were never delivered, and no money was ever refunded. The vendor could not find any paperwork at all for that customer for October.
The final customer of nine listed in the complaint paid $1,305 by credit card for laminate countertops. When they weren’t delivered as promised, the customer said they tried unsuccessfully to contact Becker, and then disputed the charge with the credit card company.
Becker disputed the claim. The customer was eventually fully reimbursed by the credit card company. Becker called the law enforcement investigator who had been questioning him and said he had fully reimbursed that customer, according to court records.
A former employee of Becker’s told the investigator that Becker had engaged in some poor business practices.
On Aug. 17, District Judge Jay Carlson issued a summons for Becker to appear in court Sept. 16.