Suspect booked in con case

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By CHRIS BATEMAN

A Twain Harte area man stands accused of swindling Tuolumne County customers out of more than $100,000 in home-building scams.

Michael William Takis, 28, of the 10800 block of Robin Hood Lane, was booked Monday on suspicion of obtaining property or cash under false pretenses, diverting construction funds and forgery. He has since been released on $50,000 bail.

Takis, represented by Sonora attorney Jim Webster, will be arraigned at 8:15 a.m. Friday, Sept. 26, in Tuolumne County Superior Court.

The arrest followed a months-long investigation by the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office and the Contractors State License Board and came as a relief to the purported victims.

"It's about time," Kathleen Rustrum said when told of the arrest. "That guy cost me a lot of money. ? But compared to the others, I got off easy."

Rustrum said that last year, she paid Takis and his firm, AAA Services, $13,400 for managing the design and construction of a home in Willow Springs, but he never delivered.

According to court and investigative records, Takis conned Suzie Wirths, planning to build a home near Twain Harte, out of $32,400. And he's accused of taking Nick Creton, building a house outside Columbia, for $54,758.

Also, Takis never paid draftsman Bill Rutherford of Tuolumne $5,000 for design work he had done on the homes, records say.

"I have a nice-looking check here, but unfortunately, his account never had any money in it," said Rutherford, who described Takis as "full of bravado, but not very bright."

Also, investigators say, Takis misrepresented himself to banks, lenders and title companies.

Jeff Miller, an investigator with the Contractors License Board's Statewide Fraud Team, began working on the case late last year.

"He had the silver-tongued-devil syndrome going," Miller said. "He'd sell you a bill of goods and get you hooked. Once he had a few thousand dollars of your money, it was much harder to tell him to take a hike."

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