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JOHNSONBURG - The preliminary hearing in the case against Nancy Jean Bodien, 36, of Ridgway, charged with theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received, a felony of the third degree, was held Wednesday in Magisterial District Court in Johnsonburg, with Judge George "Tony" King presiding.
The charges against Bodien stem from her alleged failure to pay for services rendered in the restoration of her home following an Aug. 17, 2011 fire at the 45 Fremont Ave., Ridgway residence.
The criminal complaint against Bodien alleges that between Sept. 13, 2011 and Dec. 14, 2011, she received five insurance checks through Bank of America totaling $48,755.20, of which she paid Joshua Amacher, owner of SuperShine Carpet and Tile Cleaners, only $28,886.65, and "did use the remaining $19,868.55 for personal expenditures."
In his testimony Wednesday, Amacher said that he was first contacted by Bodien's husband James, who was seeking fire restoration services. Amacher arranged a walkthrough of the couple's property at the Fremont Avenue location, at which point he said they entered into a service agreement and he provided an estimate which both Bodien and the insurance carrier agreed to.
The work authorization form on which Nancy Bodien was listed as signatory was entered into evidence as exhibit one by District Attorney Bradley J. Kraus.
Amacher said his company commenced work within a few weeks of the fire with the goal of "getting them [the Bodiens] back in there in two months." Amacher added that as the Bodiens did not have contents coverage on the claim, he volunteered the work of some of his employees.
He said as is typical with such restoration claims, the insurance company releases money in stages corresponding with the percentage of the project completed and he expected three or four payments on that particular project.
"They [an inspector] just come in and do a walkthrough and we broke it down in to 25 percent, 50 percent, and the final. So three or four times they release money," Amacher said.
Amacher testified that once the claim was submitted, checks were then issued by the insurance company, Balboa Insurance Group, to the mortgage holder, Bank of America, and in turn to the Bodiens, who would then provide payment in the form of a personal check presented to him.
"The inspector would go to Bank of America and tell them it's 25 percent done and release money to the Bodiens and they would pay us. Nancy was there for some of the inspections. She would bring the check down, the check from Bank of America, and show us what they [Bodiens] were getting. We don't know what they're [Bank of America] releasing, so it was nice that she was doing that. Then the third check she didn't bring down, I didn't think anything of it," Amacher said.
He added that when the third check was issued to his company by the Bodiens, he couldn't be sure that it corresponded to the amount released by the bank.
Amacher said that on the final inspection Bodien was present, adding that the inspector determined the project to have been completed and satisfactory. A Certificate of Completion and Satisfaction was then signed by Bodien and submitted to the bank, at which point Amacher said he expected final payment. It was at this point that Amacher began actively pursuing Bodien for the remaining payment through phone calls and text messages but received no initial response, he said.
"I left several voicemails with Nancy, then I started text messaging her. She said she didn't get the checks yet, that they were coming. We had no way of knowing," Amacher said.
Amacher added that he also attempted to contact Bank of America inquiring as to the status of the payment, but was told he could access the account only if Bodien authorized it.
"She said she had been busy working and couldn't get ahold of them. She told me 'Yes, access the account,' but didn't tell Bank of America," Amacher said.
In her testimony Wednesday, investigating officer Bridgette Asti of the Ridgway Borough Police Department said that in executing her search warrant, she requested information regarding the Bodiens' fire loss claim from Bank of America, Balboa Insurance Company, and access to the couple's joint checking account.
Pick up a copy of the Thursday, June 21, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.