Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Marine Businessman Extradited To Collier To Face Fraud Charges

A 37-year-old marine businessman who deputies say has been on the run since August 2008 is back in Collier County to face charges that he defrauded three South Florida residents out of nearly $90,000 for boat equipment that was never delivered and repair work that was never carried out.

Christopher Coomes, 103 Willow Creek Lane, East Naples, was booked into the Collier County jail on Friday following his extradition from New York. He is charged with two felony counts of scheming to defraud.

Deputies say the victims paid Coomes, owner of Florida Yacht Detailing, tens of thousands of dollars for boat motors, trailers and other equipment, which they never received. One of the victims paid Coomes more than $30,000 to restore a boat that was damaged in Hurricane Katrina.

Collier County Sheriff’s Office reports gave this account:

Kenneth Nelson of Naples told deputies that he gave Coomes a check for $25,000 to pay for two Honda BF 225 V6-4 Stroke outboard motors for his 28 foot Orca vessel. On June 20, 2006, Nelson received an invoice from Coomes which reflected that Coomes ordered the motors from Marine Supply & Rigging Wholesale. However, Nelson never received the motors or a refund from Coomes.

Further investigation by deputies with the sheriff’s Economic Crimes Unit revealed the invoice, which did not list an address or phone number for Marine Supply & Rigging, was possibly fraudulent. A search of corporations and fictitious names did not find any entity doing business under that name in Florida or the rest of the country.

Coomes’ bank records revealed that he used Nelson’s money for his personal debts and expenditures, according to the deputies’ investigation.

In November 2006 Charles Anderson of Naples hired Coomes to take over the maintenance of his 25 foot VX Hydrasport Vector vessel, which he kept docked at The Club of Barefoot Beach. He told deputies he contacted Coomes after seeing his business card on the bulletin board.

Anderson’s total losses were estimated at $26,242.15, which included $6,200 for the purchase of a new boat trailer that was never delivered and $4,430 for the purchase of a wireless security system that was never installed. Coomes also removed a $2,861 marine navigation device from the vessel, telling Anderson he would store it for him so it wouldn’t get stolen.

Thomas Parry of Fort Lauderdale told deputies that he purchased a Rybovich Rybo Runner that had been severely damaged during Hurricane Katrina from Coomes for $6,500 on April 26, 2007.

Coomes agreed to rebuild the boat for $45,000. On April 27, 2007, Parry wrote Coomes a check for $17,100 for the cost of parts and labor. Parry wrote another check for $3,800 on May 30, 2007, after Coomes requested more money for parts and labor. On Sept. 6, 2007, Parry wrote Coomes a check for $10,000 as a deposit for twin Evinrude outboard motors.

Deputies said Coomes never did any work on Parry’s vessel, which he moved to a remote
storage facility in eastern Collier so Parry would not locate and view it.

Parry’s total losses were estimated at $37,400.

A warrant for Coomes’ arrest was issued on Aug. 21, 2008. He was apprehended in Manhattan by the New York Police Department. Deputies served him with the warrant at the Collier jail following his extradition.