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Md. court upholds conviction against custom homebuilder

April 13, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

Maryland's second highest court this week upheld the 1998 conviction of former custom homebuilder Kenneth P. Dluhy for misdemeanor breach of trust.

In a 22-page opinion released Wednesday, the Court of Special Appeals ruled that Washington County Circuit Judge Donald Beachley was correct when he found the statute governing custom homebuilders was constitutional.

The higher court also agreed with Beachley's finding that the misdemeanor liability section of the statute doesn't require intent to prove guilt, according to the court opinion.

Last July, Beachley limited restitution to one-third of what a Hagerstown couple believed was owed by Dluhy, who spent their money to pay his own expenses.

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Beachley ordered Dluhy to pay $8,596.82 to Robert and Diane Leisinger.

Convicted Dec. 9, 1998, of misdemeanor breach of trust, Dluhy, 45, of Frederick, Md., was given a four-month suspended jail sentence at that hearing and fined $750 by Beachley.

Dluhy also was barred from entering into any contract to do construction work in Maryland for 18 months.

The Leisingers have been unable to seek civil judgments from Dluhy because he declared bankruptcy.

At the time the Leisingers entered into the contract with Dluhy to build their home on Crystal Falls Drive, he was a partner in Surber Homes Inc. in Frederick, which has gone out of business.

The Maryland Custom Home Protection Act of 1986 requires contractors to use the owners' money to pay suppliers and subcontractors on that specific job.

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