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Canton contractor in jail charged with theft from elderly

By STEPHANIE UJHELYI sujhelyi@the-review.com Published: August 12, 2016 10:00 AM
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An Alliance man said that he was completely unaware of William W. Dinger's track record when he hired him to put a roof on his home.

The unnamed man was one of three victims whom Alliance police said that Dinger, 60, of Canton, allegedly took for in excess of $25,000 since April, resulting in officers charging him with three counts of theft from a person in a protected class, one third-degree felony and two fourth-degree felonies.

Dinger had two previous felony convictions on similar charges in 2009 and 2012.

City police Lt. Bill Morris has no doubt that there are probably more victims out there.

Dinger already was in Stark County Jail Wednesday on a charge of grand theft, which appeared to be a direct indictment, when Alliance delivered their three warrants -- one stemming from his failure to deliver $12,000 in roof work for three properties in the area of State Street and Watson Avenue as well as roof work of approximately $8,000 and $6,800 to two victims.

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Morris said that clients had paid for the materials back in late April and filed the reports with police after Dinger failed to deliver. Originally labeled a civil matter, Morris said officials gave Dinger until Aug. 1 to either reimburse the clients or finish the jobs. He did neither, so Alliance Law Director Jennifer Arnold approved the charges.

Once finding out that this wasn't the first incident where Dinger had done this, Morris admitted that it angered him when he found out about his history of allegedly taking advantage of the elderly. "I'm a softie unless you are ripping off kids or the elderly," he added.

The court arena isn't an unfamiliar place for Dinger, who has been convicted twice before of similar charges, although the Stark County grand jury no-billed him twice previously.

In 2009, Stark County Common Pleas Court Judge Charles E. Brown ordered Dinger to pay $3,000 restitution to two elderly women who had contracted him for work that he never completed at their homes, holding 34 months of suspended prison time over his head.

Ultimately he had to serve that prison time after Stark County Common Pleas Court Judge Frank Forchione sentenced him to an additional count of theft from an elderly person and two counts of grand theft after he allegedly took $22,000 in money from three different clients and never completed the work. Under that sentence, Forchione prohibited Dinger from contracting with any customers for home improvement projects or jobs back in May 2012 and sentenced him to 30 months in prison.

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Both Dinger's past cases, which exceed $4,598 in missed past-due payments, were sent to collections in December 2014.

Dinger has a full dance card today, as he is set to be arraigned in the morning by Stark County Common Pleas Court Judge Chryssa N. Hartnett and via video technology in the afternoon by Alliance Municipal Court Judge Andrew L. Zumbar.

Although he missed the Aug. 1 deadline, one unidentified victim said that Dinger allegedly was still stringing along one of the other victims when he was picked up and incarcerated earlier this week, promising that he would return their money by Aug. 15.

Morris cautions about paying a contractor in full up front -- no matter what the sob story.

Dinger reeled in his victims, who felt sorry for the seemingly nice guy with a large family and numerous exes who was just trying to make ends meet. "He sure was a real good talker," the unnamed victim concluded.

Anyone else who may have information about Dinger or who may have been one of his victims is asked to call Morris at the Alliance Police Department at 330-821-9140 between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays.

If convicted of these latest charges, Dinger faces up to nine and a half years in prison and $25,000 in fines plus imposition of any suspended prison time.

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