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Contractor charged with theft from homeowners, subcontractors

By Pam Cunningham, Reporter
Published On: Jul 26 2012 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 27 2012 05:42:34 PM CDT

Berks County detectives said they found the man responsible for ripping off a homeowner and dozens of subcontractors.

READING, Pa. -

Berks County detectives said they found the man responsible for ripping off a homeowner and dozens of subcontractors.

Robert Lukens stole almost $500,000 before leaving the area, authorities said.

The district attorney's office said Lukens is no longer a general contractor in Berks County. He lives in North Carolina, but surrendered to detectives Friday morning for his arraignment.

Theresa Johnson, the first assistant district attorney, said detectives began investigating Lukens more than a year ago.

"In February 2011, there was a couple who was building a home. They were alerted by the subcontractors that they were not being paid," said Johnson.

Lukens owned and operated Lukens Construction Company in Reading. A couple in Perry Township contracted Lukens to build their $700,000 home.

"Their home was being built. Work was being done by the subcontractors and when the subcontractors came to them to complain that they weren't getting paid these homeowners turned around and paid these subcontractors what they had done," said Johnson, adding that the homeowners paid Lukens for $240,000 worth of work that never happened. "We started an investigation, and through the investigation, it took us backwards to 2009."

From January 2009 to December 2010, detectives said Lukens did not pay many subcontractors for work completed on different homes throughout Berks County.

"What they started doing is going back and finding other homeowners that Lukens had done work for," said Johnson. "Going back to those homeowners and talking to the homeowners and then finding the subs that had done their homes."

Some subcontractors were out as little as $139 and others as much as $30,000.

"There are 25 subcontractors throughout Berks County that are owed by Robert Lukens and the total we've come up to in our investigation is somewhere around half-a-million dollars," said Johnson.

Johnson said they will seek restitution.

Lukens' bail was set at $25,000 unsecured. His preliminary hearing will be in August, but has not yet been scheduled.