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Home-Remodeling CEO Found Guilty of Grand Theft

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The chief executive officer of a now-defunct Oakland Park home-remodeling company was found guilty Wednesday night of 12 grand theft charges for taking clients' money for jobs he allegedly never completed.

The former CEO was taken into custody after a Broward jury convicted him of the theft charges as well as two counts of extortion. Jurors acquitted him of 27 other criminal charges, including the most serious charge -- organized scheme to defraud -- that could have resulted in a 30-year prison sentence.

A second man who prosecutors argued helped run the home-remodeling company was acquitted of all 37 criminal charges he faced.

The two men were arrested in November 2004, six months after a Sun-Sentinel investigation into complaints by clients who said the company took their money, did demolition work in their homes and then failed to complete the jobs.

The accused's attorney said his client was simply a businessman who got in over his head when his company grew too big, too fast. The accused never set out to defraud clients or leave jobs unfinished.

Grand theft requires the prosecution to prove that the accused possessed an intent to steal. That is often a question left up to the jury.