A Springville man is facing felony charges after investigators discovered he tricked a New York woman out of $9,000 through a fake furniture business.
Charles Merrill Bailey, 26, was charged in 4th District Court on Thursday with communications fraud and money laundering, both second-degree felonies.
In July 2018, a woman in New York posted an online advertisement looking for someone to build specific pieces of furniture, according to court documents.
Bailey responded to the ad the same day and agreed to make the furniture in six weeks as part of his business named “Celestial Statues.”
Charges state the woman agreed to pay Bailey $9,000 for the project plus $1,000 on delivery for shipping services. On the same day she posted the ad, the woman sent Bailey the first payment of $2,999.
During conversations throughout the next few weeks, Bailey reportedly convinced the woman that he was able to manufacture the furniture, had purchased and cut the wood and later started the project.
“When the (woman) asked for pictures of the furniture being manufactured, the defendant sent her a picture of one of the pieces in it’s ‘rough frame design,’” charges state.
The second $2,999 payment and third $3,002 payment were sent to Bailey in early August from the woman’s bank account to his Mountain America Credit Union account, according to court documents.
But the woman never paid the final $1,000 because the furniture never arrived.
None of the woman’s money went to purchase supplies or materials to make furniture, investigators determined. Instead, Bailey used the funds to make cash withdrawals and pay credit card debt and loans.
“Investigation into the matter revealed that the defendant had misrepresented all of the foregoing, beginning with the initial representation that he had the means to manufacture the furniture,” charges state.
The investigation revealed Bailey did not own a registered business, a shop or any equipment to make furniture other than a small 3D printer to create small statues.
Bailey has prior criminal convictions for criminal mischief, theft and issuing a bad check.
Last year, he was charged with aggravated assault, a third-degree felony, for harassing his ex-wife’s family by driving his motorcycle by the house multiple times a day and pointing an air pellet gun designed to look like a handgun at his ex-father-in-law.