ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — The Escambia County Contractor Competency Board held special meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 5. The board ordered two Pensacola contractors to pay a total of $480,000 in restitution and $170,000 in fines.

Matthew Banks of Banks Construction was ordered to pay a total of $161,947 in restitution to six victims and pay $86,350 in fines. Jesse LaCoste of LaCoste Construction was ordered to pay $317,829 in restitution to seven victims and $84,150 in fines.

The 12 victims all claim that Banks and LaCoste were paid for projects that were never completed.

On Aug. 10, Banks was arrested by Okaloosa County deputies on a warrant issued by the Pensacola Police Department. The original charge was larceny for failing to provide a refund to a client, but the charge was recently changed to fraud by the State Attorney’s Office.

According to Escambia County Jail records, LaCoste is currently not in prison, but has been arrested four times since Aug. 24, 2019. Once for a moving traffic violation, once for a generic statute, once for an out-of-county warrant and once for cruelty towards a child, which he is currently on probation for until 2023.

Michael Moss, one of the victims receiving restitution from LaCoste said he hired LaCoste Construction group to perform renovations on his home on Mackey Key Drive. In Aug. 2021, Moss paid a $24,000 deposit and has had three start dates come and go without any work done.

According to the complaint, once Moss learned LaCoste was in jail, they decided to fire him for breach of contract on June 13, 2022.

So far, both Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties have ordered Banks and LaCoste to pay more than $1 million in restitution to several clients, but Banks filed bankruptcy back in August. The counties have also permanently revoked Banks’ and LaCoste’s licenses.

The State Attorney’s Office told WKRG News 5 they are currently investigating, in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, the complaints against Banks and any other contractor they find in violation.

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