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Local contractor gets jail time and a job

Posted at 7:04 PM, Mar 18, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-18 19:04:54-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Local roofer Ken Bird is headed to the Kent County Jail for four months for fraud.  Judge George Buth sentenced him Wednesday. So far, he must also repay $224,000 in restitution to his victims, but we're told that figure may fluctuate.

Bird also found employment, so the judge granted work release. That means he'll serve time but will be let out of jail to work. A construction company hired him, plus he's a waiter.

Bird didn't speak in court, but his defense attorney Molly Bourbeau explained to the judge how Bird got into trouble. "He fell on hard times when several customers failed to pay him around $110,000,"  Bourbeau said.

The judge reminded Bird's attorney of her client's wrongdoing: taking money from customers and not doing any work. In February, he pleaded guilty to defrauding customers.

The FOX 17 Problem Solvers have spoken with several of Bird's clients and subcontractors since late summer 2014, including the Malones from Ada.

The Malones gave Bird a $9,000 downpayment in June 2014 and never heard from him again.

"We couldn't get anything but lies out of him is what it turned out to be. He would make promises," Ken Malone said.

It's this repeated crime Bird pleaded guilty to, although an assistant Kent County prosecutor said all his victims haven't been accounted for.

"Mr. Bird takes full responsibility and wants nothing more than to pay everybody back," defense attorney Bourbeau said. "He has been able to find secure, permanent employment and with Outdoor Construction Services LLC."

It's a second chance of sorts. Outside the courtroom, FOX 17 spoke with Bob Burt, who said Bird did his roof some years ago and did a good job. Now Burt wants to help Bird get back on his feet.

"We want to utilize him in our company to help our company because we want to put forth a very high quality product," Burt said.

"We're a family-oriented Christian company," he continued, "we want to help him take care of them we feel as much for the customer as we do him."​

The company said they're contacting all of the people who Bird has an unfulfilled contract with, and they're offering to finish up the roofing jobs. Customers would then pay the rest of the contract.

Bird also got three years probation.