Judge sends unlicensed contractor to jail for year in fraud case

One man was sentenced to a year in the Nye County Detention Center last week after he was convicted of taking approximately $6,000 to complete a contracting job and never finished the work.

Frank Freddie Martinez, 53, appeared in District Court Friday morning on a single gross misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to commit engaging in business or submitting bids without a license, unlawful, third offense.

He was formally charged in the case in July and pleaded guilty one month later in exchange for three other cases to be dropped.

According to representations made at the sentencing hearing, Martinez was contracted by a local property owner to set a manufactured home on a pad.

Martinez was then alleged to have taken the victim’s money in the form of three payments, but never came back to finish the job. Additionally it was also discovered he had entered into the contract for the job without a valid contractor’s license.

During sentencing, Martinez told the court he was sorry for not finishing the job, but explained that he had taken some of the money to get his contractor’s license, but his attempts fell apart before he could receive it.

He added he had been working with the State Contractor’s Board to try and get his license back and that he planned to pay the victim back when he could.

“I never woke up one day in my life and thought I want to cheat anybody out of any money. I never woke up one time in my life wanting to steal or anything, that just isn’t the way I was raised….some of this stuff was not all my fault. I do say I’m guilty, but it takes two to make a contract,” he said. “I would like to pay back the money I took. Some of it was a loan to get my license, at that time it had just fallen apart on me. But I apologize for what I did.”

His attorney Tom Gibson asked that Martinez, whom he said had never been convicted of anything other than a misdemeanor offense before, be given probation so he could get his contractor’s license and begin working to pay the money back.

“Your honor, Mr. Martinez is very sorry for the things he’s done … He’s never been given the chance or opportunity for probation, nor has he ever needed it in the past. Based upon his lack of record, we believe it will be counterproductive to society as a whole to incarcerate Mr. Martinez, especially for 12 months, on something he could be out on working and paying taxes and working to pay back the restitution he owes,” he said.

Deputy District Attorney David Rickert, however, said he believed Martinez deserved to spend one year in jail on the charge as this was his third offense.

“I’d just like to read briefly part of the pre-sentence investigation report. On page six it says verbally the defendant indicated he was unaware that he was breaking the law and that he should not have signed the paperwork. And your honor I think this is a 20-year criminal history of lies, failures to appear and theft. I think that statement says it all. I think the fact that you’re on your third offense, had that plead down and try to say once again that you just didn’t know is absurd. And I think that played into P&Ps recommendation, which we join. I believe he should be remanded into custody and serve the maximum sentence and pay a $2,000 fine. In addition I would ask the $6,000 restitution be ordered. But he’s already gotten a break, this was pled down to a gross misdemeanor and he’s having three cases dismissed. Sometimes a person does not deserve another shot when they’ve already been given one,” he said.

Presiding Judge Kimberly Wanker said she tended to agree with the prosecution, having experienced working as an attorney for a subcontractor and knowing the damage unlicensed contract work can do to legitimate business.

“The reason there is a contractor’s board is when contract work is not carried out correctly there is somewhere for people to go and there is some authority over it. When you go out and do it on your own, you undercut legitimate business,” she said. “I appreciate you trying to get your life turned around, I think that’s wonderful, but if you look at your arrest record it goes back to 1990: false information to a police officer, fraud, engaging in business without a license, entry into a contract prior to acquiring contractor’s license, theft and this charge … And something you said is really bothering me. And that is ‘I didn’t solicit the contract’: you signed the contract and the minute you did that you made a promise, ‘I’m going to do this work.’ You didn’t perform the work, that’s the bottom line.”

The judge ultimately sentenced Martinez to spend one year in the Nye County Detention Center and to pay a $2,000 fine. Additionally, the defendant was ordered to pay back the $6,000 in restitution as well.