ELLENSBURG, Wash. — Over the course of three years, a Kittitas County man posing as a licensed contractor defrauded at least nine homeowners for millions of dollars. He’ll now spend nearly five years in prison and pay back $950,000 between fines and returns to the people who he victimized.
According to the Washington Dept. of Labor & Industries, Ellensburg resident John Robert Mulinski, 61, will spend 57 months behind bars for three counts of first-degree theft after pleading guilty to the charges in September.
Kittitas County Superior Court Judge Candace Hooper said it was “close to being one of the worst types of theft this court has seen” and proclaimed that “society needs to be protected from people who run scams such as this.”
Investigations found that Mulinski operated as a contractor across Kittitas and Yakima counties from Spring 2017 to Spring 2020. He took on projects that he wasn’t registered to accept, failed to complete them, fraudulently used other contractors’ ID numbers in the process, and racked up sums of consumer loss in the millions.
Steve Reinmuth, L&I’s assistant director of Field Services and Public Safety, was shocked by the findings of this investigation.
“This is hands-down the biggest contractor fraud case we have ever seen,” Reinmuth said in bewilderment.
Many of the homeowners who Mulinski targeted were elderly folk who were billed far more than their projects required and never got the insurance protection that he promised them.
The Ellensburg-based man defrauded a 94-year-old Cle Elum woman for $155,000 on work that he never completed restoring her home from storm and water damage. When it became clear that he was a scammer, she had to pay an additional $167,000 to another contractor in order to complete the restoration and go over Mulinski’s work.
His workers are owed nearly $40,000 in unpaid wages and he owes more than $182,000 in fines for bypassing L&I regulations in his work. The following video clip shows a process server visiting Mulinski to deliver court documents on the behalf of the victims of his crimes.
In total, 125 civil infractions were cited against him, and this wasn’t his first time operating in such a manner. In 2011, he was sentenced to five years in prison for similar fraud charges related to an illegitimate roofing business.
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