Iowa Contractor Gets Prison Time for Derecho Scam

While homeowners in Cedar Rapids, Iowa were rebuilding and repairing after a derecho rendered over 1,000 homes uninhabitable in August 2020, a contractor devised a scheme to defraud victims of the severe storm.

Scott Gregory Adkins, 48, was sentenced to four years in federal prison after a February 1 guilty plea to one count of wire fraud.

In a plea agreement, Adkins admitted that, from December 2020 through March 2022, he defrauded his customers, including victims of the 2020 derecho, while doing business as “Adkins Home Improvements LLC,” according the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Iowa.

The August 10, 2020 storm damaged parts of Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, causing an estimated $7.5 billion in damage. Nearly all Cedar Rapids’ residents lost power, over 1,000 housing units were rendered unlivable, and hundreds of additional homes and businesses suffered damage from the derecho.

Adkins launched “Adkins Home Improvements LLC” in October 2020, offering home repair services to victims, as well as other individuals in the Cedar Rapids area who needed projects completed in the tight-labor, post-derecho construction market.

As part of his scheme, Adkins demanded substantial advance deposits or downpayments before starting work on the construction projects. Reports say instead of completing the projects, Adkins spent some of the advanced funds on personal expenses and transferred other funds to a family member using a mobile payment service. Adkins fed his customers false statements and excuses about the status of their projects to keep his scheme going.

In total, Adkins stole over $190,000 from 22 victims, including an elderly widow who suffered roof damage to her Cedar Rapids residence. Court records show Adkins has a lengthy criminal history, including theft-related convictions in Iowa and Michigan.

Adkins was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge Leonard T. Strand. Adkins was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $192,770.72 in restitution the victims. He must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.

Adkins is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Timothy L. Vavricek and investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Cedar Rapids Police Department.