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Home builder took $15M — and never finished houses, Florida cops say. Now, he’s charged

In World
February 24, 2024

The owner of a custom home construction company is accused of collecting millions of dollars worth of deposits from clients and then abandoning the projects, leaving half-built houses and vacant concrete slabs, a Florida sheriff’s office said.

Spencer Calvert, owner of Pineapple Corporation, embezzled and misappropriated $15 million, which included construction funds, payment for subcontractors and deposits from intended homeowners, according to a Friday, Feb. 23 news release from the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office said Calvert’s company was under contract with at least 13 clients to build custom homes in Nocatee’s Vista neighborhood. The clients purchased lots between 2019 and 2023 from Calvert, according to the sheriff’s office.

Despite some clients paying Calvert years ago, their houses remain unfinished.

A few of the homeowners reached out to the investigation team at WJXT, and said they had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Calvert, but still had just a concrete slab.

One client, Lisa Sparta, told the outlet she moved with her husband from Philadelphia and went under contract in 2021 with Calvert, who said the home would be completed in a year and a half.

“After we paid some deposits to the builder, and the deposits weren’t passed on to the contractors, the house was just sitting or you know, a little bit of work would get done. And then it would sit for a few months. And there was always an excuse, there was always a reason it was out of their control. It had nothing to do with the builder. It was, you know, supply chain, it was labor shortages. It was any excuse you could think of it was never their fault,” Sparta told WJXT.

Sandy Yawn, known as a reality TV star on the show “Below Deck Mediterranean,” also bought a lot to build her dream house from Calvert and has paid $1.6 million, she told the outlet.

“We’ve spent every dime that we have. And so now we don’t really have the money to finish it. We have to try to get a loan. And we just want it when our house finishes. But more importantly, the person that took our money, I just want to know where our money is,” Yawn told WJXT.

The sheriff’s office said not only was Calvert not building houses, but he wasn’t paying subcontractors with the money he took for deposits.

Funds intended for labor, services and materials were never paid, the sheriff’s office said, and the costs totaled more than $900,000.

“Calvert is accused of knowingly and intentionally accepting deposits and abandoning the project without any attempt to refund or correct the situation,” the sheriff’s office said.

Calvert is charged with embezzling and misappropriating more than $100,000 in construction funds, first degree larceny of $100,000 or more and organized scheme to defraud, according to the sheriff’s office.

Nocatee is about 30 miles south of Jacksonville.

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