The owner of a tree trimming company is charged locally with two counts of violating the state’s consumer protection act.
The charges were filed in McClain County District Court by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter.
Franklin T. Holley, 45, of Walters is also charged with a third felony, pattern of criminal offenses. An arrest warrant is outstanding.
The charges allege Holley and his company, Family Tree Service Pros LLC, defrauded two Newcastle homeowners of $4,900 following the October ice storm.
In addition, one of the homeowners had to pay a second company $3,000 to complete the unfinished job left by Holley’s workmen.
According to an affidavit, the AG’s Consumer Protection Unit received the residents’ complaints in March.
Cathy and Skip Johnson agreed to hire Holley’s company after he gave them a verbal estimate of $3,000. On October 29, Cathy Johnson paid Holley a $100 down payment.
The work was to include trimming all broken branches on trees in the Johnson’s yard, as well as removing unrepairable trees, chipping all debris and stump grinding.
When work began on October 30, Mrs. Johnson texted Holley and requested a copy of the quote on his company letterhead. She never received that copy.
Holley’s crew worked at the Johnson property until November 5, leaving all the trees and brush stacked in piles around the house.
Holley approached Mrs. Johnson asking for payment. He told her he needed the money for payroll and to rent a bucket truck needed to finish the clean up.
Mrs. Johnson gave Holley a $3,000 check, which he cashed within hours.
Although a bucket truck was parked at the edge of the Johnson’s property, no work was done from November 8 through 13.
When contacted by the homeowners, Holley offered several excuses, promising he would complete the job.
A crew showed up on November 14 and removed one load of limbs.
Eventually, the Johnsons had to hire a second individual to complete the clean up for $3,000 cash.
Holley also allegedly failed to furnish a written $3,100 estimate for work at property owned by Jane and Kirk Piepke, who are neighbors of the Johnsons.
After a second walk-through with the Piepke’s, Holley reduced that quote to $2,500. Although Piepke asked again for a written quote, Holley never provided one.
Over a few days, the work crew dwindled from nine to only three or four and they were on the job only a few hours per day, the couple reported.
On November 5, Holley asked for payment from Mrs. Piepke. When she said she couldn’t pay the full amount, Holley reportedly asked for $1,800 cash.
According to the affidavit, when Mrs. Piepke said she would have to go to the bank, Holley instead asked for a check payable to him instead of the company.
Taking the check and driving away in his BMW, Holley immediately cashed the check and was never seen again, according to the affidavit.
Several other homeowners in the neighborhood were also left with uncompleted tree trimming/removal on their properties after hiring Holley, according to the affidavit.
If convicted, Holley faces up to 10 years in prison on each violation count and 2 years on the pattern of criminal offenses.
In addition, he could be fined up to $35,000.