SJSO arrests contractor for embezzlement


A Clay County man was arrested after he turned himself in on an embezzlement charge for misappropriation of construction funds Monday.

Howard Shane Shafer, 42, of Fleming Island, was released after posting $10,000 bond. The owner of First Coast Contractors of St. Augustine, Shafer and his company first came to the attention of law enforcement after a Palm Valley resident reported that the company had not only failed to complete work for which it had been paid, but was also performing inferior work. The investigation found that between August 2014 and December 2015, the victim overpaid the suspect by an estimated $70,000. In addition, the Palm Valley resident later learned that First Coast Contractors had not paid a supplier, resulting in a lien being placed on the victim’s home.

According to SJSO, the investigation is ongoing, as two other St. Johns County residents have reported similar incidents involving the same contractors.

In an unrelated case, a second local contractor turned himself in to the sheriff's office Wednesday after being sought in connection with four counts of misappropriating construction funds. Richard Lawrence Woods, 54 -- the owner of Paradise Pools and Spas of St. Augustine -- is accused of receiving a total of $83,000 for new pools that were never completed at four separate residences between July 2014 and August 2015. In one case, a subcontractor placed a lien on one of the victims’ homes for materials that Woods ordered but for which he never paid.

Paradise Pools and Spas of St. Augustine is in no way affiliated with Paradise Pool Service of Jacksonville.