By Samantha Smith
A Kyle man was arrested March 1 on warrants of theft ranging from $1,500 to $20,000 after he conned multiple victims in Hays and Travis counties for contract labor services he didn’t perform.
Authorities arrested John Paul Vargas Jr. on a 2013 charge of theft of the elderly in Hays County, which is a third degree felony. Vargas was also arrested on three warrants of theft in Travis County, which were all state jail felonies.
Vargas was released from the Hays County Jail on March 2 on $42,500 bond.
According to a Travis County arrest affidavit, Vargas “used deception to secure initial deposits from victims with no intention to do the job.”
The affidavit also said Vargas has a history of civil court suits of “numerous victims of contract deception.”
Vargas, according to the affidavit, has been running his contract labor scam for years, claiming to own a business in 2011 called Vargas Construction Enterprise LLC.
Vargas used his business to steal $5,900 from William Charles Peterson for the purposes of securing building permits and materials for a remodel and air conditioning installation in Austin, which he never started work on.
Peterson filed a civil suit against Vargas in April 2012 after learning from the city that there were no building permits submitted for the job. Peterson was awarded $19,200 in damages.
Vargas found another victim in Travis County in Feb. 2013 that he scammed for $4,800.
According to a Hays County indictment, four Kyle residents filed complaints against Vargas in March 2013 stating he stole property and thousands of dollars from them. He targeted a seventh victim in April 2013.
Vargas, according to the affidavit and indictment, used a similar scam, claiming he needed $3,500 up front for a construction job to either purchase materials or permits, then failing to follow through with the jobs. It’s unknown what scam Vargas used for the property thefts.
Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett said three of the four cases of theft in Kyle have been sent to Hays County District Attorney Wes Mau’s office. Mau confirmed that the cases are open, but court dates have not been set at this time.
Barnett advised citizens to be cautious when hiring individuals for a job, especially contractors. He said residents should “do their homework” when hiring someone to do a specific job for them.
“They should check the person’s references, check with the Better Business Bureau or state licensing departments, and verify that the individual has the proper licenses to perform the tasks that they claim they can perform before any agreement is made,” Barnett said.