A Penn Hills man was arrested Wednesday for failing to complete work on headstones for 51 customers since 2012.
Curtis Eakman, 52, who owns Penn Hills Monuments at 6387 Saltsburg Road, is charged with theft by deception and fraudulent business practices.
He is being held on $20,000 straight bond and is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing on Feb. 14 before District Judge Leonard J. Hromyak.
According to the criminal complaint, a number of customers went to the Penn Hills police claiming work they had ordered from Mr. Eakman was not completed. The case was then referred to the Allegheny County district attorney’s office.
Detective Jackelyn Weibel wrote in the affidavit that Mr. Eakman opened the business in April 2009.
But three years later, customers began to complain that work wasn’t being completed. The allegations date from April 2012 to November 2013.
Out of 100 customer files reviewed by Detective Weibel, 51 had paid Mr. Eakman for work that was not done.
The total he collected was $92,000.
According to the customers, they would attempt to reach Mr. Eakman, and he refused to return their phone calls.
In the instances where customers did reach him, Detective Weibel said, Mr. Eakman would give excuses for delays. They ranged from him claiming he was waiting for the granite supplier; to a labor dispute at the supplier; to the person who cuts the headstones being on vacation; to the headstones being made in India; to the granite supplier refusing to ship until a specific weight was reached.
Through the investigation, Detective Weibel wrote, she learned that several companies that worked with Mr. Eakman had not been paid, including his granite supplier, who was owed $14,000; his engraver, who was owed more than $3,000 and the installer, who was owed $9,000.
According to the complaint, Mr. Eakman used his business bank account as his “personal piggy bank” using deposits to pay for his daily expenses, including meals; groceries; jewelry and event tickets.
Deposits were not used to pay his business expenses, Detective Weibel wrote, and instead Mr. Eakman “was spending the victim customers’ money on his personal expenses as fast as he was depositing it.”
Paula Reed Ward: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter @PaulaReedWard.