Posted: May 21, 2012 5:12 PM by Irina Cates (KPAX News)
Updated: May 22, 2012 7:56 AM
MISSOULA- A roofing contractor who defrauded victims in the Flathead Valley, Hot Springs and Great Falls will spend less than five years in a federal prison.
Prosecutors told a Missoula federal judge on Monday it was exhausting trying keep up with John Robert Mulinski and his schemes.
A Great Falls man, the only victim to testify at the sentencing, called Mulinski a smooth talker and a master of deceit.
"The way he can spin things and come off with a quick explanation, but it's all fabricated," said Max Jackson, Mulinski's roofing fraud victim.
Jackson hired Mulinski to replace his leaky roof, but he never finished the job and left the Jackson family freezing all winter.
"The heater was running full. We still didn't have enough heat really to stay warm. So we had blankets around children trying to keep them warm. We tried to take winter vacations just trying to get them out of there, staying with friends if we could," said Jackson.
Mulinski's victims included the Hot Springs School District and many others who hired him to work on their family homes.
Victims testified during the December trial that Mulinski lied about his real name, took their money and either never started or never finished the job. The advertisers and employees said Mulinski never paid them.
Prosecutor Tim Roscoe told the judge its been exhausting keeping track of Mulinski, who took his scheme to Montana after it started to unravel in Washington.
Roscoe said Mulinski started a roofing company in the Flathead, but when victims caught on, he changed his business name and moved to Great Falls.
During sentencing, Mulinski said he always held trust as a high standard and now he sees he's failed at it. He apologized to the victims and said he hopes he can regain people's trust in the future.
Mulinski faces similar fraud charges in Washington and California and in addition to nearly five years in prison he must pay more than $138,000 in restitution.
He has 14 days to appeal his federal court sentence.