Accused contractor now linked to fraud case from 2014; police ask for help finding him

Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Area law enforcement agencies have sounded the alarm and say they are looking for 39-year-old Matthew Morris again, less than a month after he was arrested for alleged contractor fraud.

He is accused of taking advantage of more than a dozen flood victims in at least three parishes and now another alleged case of fraud has emerged in East Baton Rouge Parish, which happened well before last year's flood.

A tattered tarp, missing bricks, and construction masks dangling from the hinges of doors make up the aftermath of an incomplete renovation project at a home on Fairhaven Dr. in Baton Rouge. The owner, a 67-year-old woman, claims it's the way she and her sister's house was left after a storm blew through in 2014. The storm knocked a tree onto their roof and swept Matthew Morris into their lives.

The 39-year-old contractor was arrested and bonded out of jail earlier this month, accused of ripping off more than a dozen flood victims in Ascension Parish. Since then, he has been hit with another seven cases of fraud in Livingston Parish, and according to a recently signed warrant for his arrest, Baton Rouge Police also want him for the Fairhaven Dr. case of fraud, which allegedly happened well before the historic flood.

According to the homeowner's attorney, Morris did do some work, including patching up some of the roof and installing about six windows, but that is when the work stopped and he allegedly took off, but not before pocketing more than $100,000.

Attorney Steven Schilling, who represents the homeowners, said he wants to know where the money went and when his clients will get some relief.

"The money went somewhere, but it didn't go in this house," Schilling said. "I have no idea. I sure want to ask Mr. Morris that and I plan to do so. He actually has a deposition scheduled in April, but I don't know if that's going to happen now because I understand that Mr. Morris cannot be found."

Baton Rouge Crime Stoppers put out an alert Friday from several agencies, including the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office, BRPD, and the Walker Police Department, offering a reward for information leading to his arrest. As of Monday night though, Morris remains on the streets. It's something Schilling said pours salt in the wounds of his many alleged victims.

"Well, Mr. Morris has been playing the cat and mouse game fairly well and apparently now he may not every appear. I don't know," Schilling added.

With roughly 20 alleged cases of fraud, several residents want answers from Morris. Anyone with information that can help police find him are encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 225-344-7867.

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