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A Danville man has pleaded guilty in Henry County Circuit Court on June 16 to two misdemeanors in connection with an unfinished home improvement project.

Joseph Carter Murphy Jr., 73, pleaded guilty to practicing without a contractor’s license and practicing as an electrician tradesman without a license. There was a felony charge of construction fraud, but because Murphy pleaded guilty to the two misdemeanors, that charge was not prosecuted.

Phillip Gardner represented Murphy and Wayne Withers prosecuted the case. Chief Judge Giles Carter Greer oversaw the case.

Withers stated it started in April 2019 where Murphy met with the clients, the Price family of Henry County to finish their basement. Murphy told them he had a Class A contractors license. Withers said Murphy had them pay some money up front. After doing some of the work, Murphy stopped midway and resumed a little while later, and stopping again in 2020. All of a sudden, he disappeared and stopped answering their phone calls. 

According to Withers, when the Prices called Murphy asking why he hasn’t finished the basement, he provided them with a variety of excuses, such as having COVID when the pandemic first started.

In Nov. 2020, the Prices sent a letter to Murphy demanding their money back. Murphy allegedly signed it but to this day has not returned the money. A restitution hearing will be set up at a later date to determine how much Murphy owes the Prices.

In all, the Prices lost around $52,000, said Withers. 

After showing Greer pictures of the unfinished work, Withers said the work Murphy did complete did not meet code.

Greer ruled Murphy guilty based on the evidence and the guilty plea. Sentencing is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 1 at 11 a.m.

Staff Writer

Zach McKnight joined the Star-Tribune from Wadsworth, Ohio, as a staff writer. Zach earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from Kent State University. Zach was also awarded 3rd place in Public Safety writing by the Virginia Press Association for 2021.

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