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A man left couples with demolished homes after being paid to build new ones for them – and stole hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result, prosecutors say.

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A man left couples with demolished homes after being paid to build new ones for them – and stole hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result, prosecutors say.

Now the Virginia builder faces up to 20 years in federal prison for failing to do the job he was paid to do, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Instead, prosecutors say he spent his clients’ money on other projects and on himself.

One couple lost more than $278,000 and another couple lost $250,000 after hiring the man, court documents show.

Pedro Felipe Valdes Sanchez, 57, of Centerville, pleaded guilty to defrauding his clients on Nov. 8, the district attorney’s office said in a news release.

“Ultimately, Valdes performed minimal work on these clients’ homes, sometimes only demolishing the existing residence on the clients’ property,” the statement said.

McClatchy News contacted Valdes’ attorney for comment on Nov. 10 and was awaiting a response.

The constructor’s “scheme”

From May 2017 to April 2018, homeowners in the McClean area, a community about 10 miles west of Washington, D.C., were defrauded by Valdes’ ‘scheme’ after hiring him to build or renovate homes, according to prosecutors.

Several couples hired Valdes through his construction company, Artifact LLC, according to court documents. At the same time, Valdes and his company were working on other properties, which belonged to his brother’s companies.

While “Valdes completed projects for his brother’s businesses…” he did not complete projects for his clients, according to a statement of facts.

In June 2017, a married couple hired Valdes to demolish their home and build a custom home on the same property for $520,000, according to the statement of facts.

This couple paid Valdes a $52,000 deposit for pre-construction costs — but he didn’t use the money on their home, prosecutors say. Instead, he spent it on properties he was working on for his brother.

Over the next several months, Valdes continued to spend the couple’s bail money on expenses not involving their new home, according to court documents.

In March 2018, the couple paid Valdes $278,466 for permit applications, demolition of their old home, excavation work, and foundation and framing costs for the new home, according to the statement of facts. .

However, Valdes and his company spent only $49,000 on “minimal work,” including the demolition of the old house, its excavation and permits, according to prosecutors.

As a result, the couple, left with only a demolished property, demanded their money back, according to the statement of facts. Valdes’ company returned $20,000, but Valdes declared bankruptcy soon after. This led to the couple forfeiting the $20,000.

As of November 8, the couple had not recovered any of the money they paid Valdes, according to court documents.

During a similar but separate case, Valdes left another married couple with a demolished home after hiring him to build a custom home on their property, according to the statement of facts.

Along with $250,000 the couple paid Valdes, he stole $15,000 in cash withdrawals and checks he wrote to himself for personal expenses, according to the statement of facts.

Ultimately, the couple terminated their contract with Valdes, who never returned his $250,000 after failing to complete the work he was being paid to do, according to the statement of facts.

Now Valdes faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, according to prosecutors.

However, “actual sentences for federal crimes are generally lower than maximum sentences,” the statement said.

Sentencing of Valdes is scheduled for February 14, the statement said.

Julia Marnin is a McClatchy National Real-Time reporter covering the Southeast and Northeast while based in New York. She is an alumnus of the College of New Jersey and joined McClatchy in 2021. Previously she has written for Newsweek, Modern Luxury, Gannett and more.