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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Prolific con man convicted in carpentry scheme

Stratton guilty of 12 counts in deceptive carpentry scheme

A con man with dozens of victims in three states was convicted Thursday of another 12 counts of deceiving victims into shoveling over money for projects he never completed.

A jury convicted Ronald G. Stratton, 60, of 12 counts of theft by deception following a four-day trial before Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque. The new convictions add to eight convictions for grand theft in Kootenai County in 1995 and nine convictions for theft in 1997 in Missoula.

Stratton placed advertisements promising custom carpentry work. He would make a deal, deliver promises and skip out with the money, according to court records.

“The victims all lost between $800 and $4,000 each,” Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Bob Sargent said. “Most of them got hardly anything.”

Stratton was charged late last year after Spokane County sheriff’s detectives were flooded with complaints about work promised and not delivered.

At the time, Stratton had been released on parole after serving three years of a 14-year prison sentence stemming from the convictions in Coeur d’Alene. He also was on probation from the convictions in Montana.

In an interview last fall, Stratton told The Spokesman-Review that he suffered a stroke and underwent leg surgery that prevented him from completing the work. He also complained that supplies he had planned to use on the promised jobs were stolen from his shop.

“I’ve got this beat hands down,” Stratton said at the time. “It was legit except for the license. I got fined for that, and that’s all there is to it.”

He could not be reached following the verdict Thursday. His attorney, Kyle Zeller, also could not be reached.

Sargent said Stratton is facing more than two years in prison, adding that the judge could give him more time based on the previous convictions for similar crimes.

The Idaho attorney general’s office won a civil award of $189,930 against Stratton in January 1995 but conceded that he owned virtually nothing and repayment was unlikely, according to previously published reports.

The schemes for which Stratton was convicted in Kootenai County stemmed from Stratton accepting thousands of dollars for construction work that he failed to complete. His public defender at the time said Stratton pleaded guilty because he had a “moral and civil responsibility” to the victims but “circumstances got away from him” and “he lost control,” according to a 1995 Spokesman-Review article.

Leveque scheduled Stratton’s sentencing for Oct. 10.