The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

March 14, 2013

California man arrested in construction scam

California authorities have arrested a man being investigated in connection with warrants accusing him of taking more than $100,000 for home construction projects that were not completed after the Joplin tornado.

Dean Dankelson, Jasper County prosecuting attorney, said Thursday that Clark Baxter, 58, of Dana Point, Calif., had been arrested on warrants issued by Jasper County.

The prosecuting attorney’s office filed bad-check charges against Baxter, and the Missouri attorney general’s office also is investigating him for allegedly taking money from two Joplin families whose homes were destroyed in the May 2011 tornado.

Larry and Amy Jump and Megan Snyder said they gave money to Baxter, owner of Sustainable Design Inc., after he came to Joplin and offered to design energy-efficient homes for them to replace properties lost in the tornado.

Baxter reportedly said he would serve as general contractor and get materials at a reduced rate. The Jumps reportedly gave him about $54,000 and Snyder gave him about $64,000, which was to pay for building materials. While some of those materials arrived, most never did. The homes eventually were completed and outfitted by volunteer groups that stepped in to help.

Amy Jump said she was told last week of the arrest by a member of the attorney general’s office that is working on the Baxter investigation.

“We’re so excited,” she said. “If we could get back just a portion of what we gave him, it would be great.”

Nanci Gonder, spokeswoman for Attorney General Chris Koster, said the office is in contact with California officials on the case. “We still have him under investigation,” she said.

Dankelson said his office also is in contact with officials in Orange County, Calif., where Baxter was taken into custody on Feb. 6.

“It’s our understanding he was picked up on our warrant,” Dankelson said. “We’ve done the paperwork to be sent to the governor, which will ask that he be extradited from California.”

Dankelson said Baxter may have bonded out and been arrested after that on another charge.

“If that’s the case, he’ll have to clear those charges up before we can bring him back,” he said.

Local charge

JASPER COUNTY PROSECUTORS filed a felony bad-check charge against Clark Baxter, alleging that he wrote an insufficient-funds check for $6,255 on Oct. 28, 2011, to Herrman Lumber Co. in Joplin.

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