Russell Bannister, called himself the "Hurricane Handyman" but would take victims' money and never do the work, police said.
Russell Bannister, who dubbed himself the “hurricane handyman” is back in town. But don’t call him to patch your roof or replace your screen after Hurricane Dorian churns by.
Bannister is in jail.
According to police records, Bannister scammed a number of elderly Volusia County residents, taking their money and never doing any of the work. He is also an example of why residents should be careful who they hire to make repairs to their homes or remove a fallen tree whether hurricane related or not.
Bannister’s scam typically targeted the elderly with victims ranging from 70 to 85 years old, according to police. He would offer to pressure wash and paint their homes or fix a dryer, take their cash and do nothing, reports state. That’s what he did to an 84-year-old Daytona Beach man who lost $12,000, three Volusia County residents lost a combined $570 to him, reports said. Bannister also took two Edgewater residents, ages 75 and 71, for a total of $1,200, according to reports. Bannister is also accused of taking $1,100 from a 78-year-old woman living near Ormond Beach to do work on her house and returning but not to do the work, investigators said. Bannister instead asked her to go outside so he could check the phone and later the woman discovered $7,000 missing, a report said.
Bannister, 47, was booked Aug. 28 into the Volusia County Branch Jail where he is being held without bond on some of the charges but his bail on the other counts add up to $105,000. He was transferred to the jail from the Evans Correctional Institution in South Carolina.
Bannister is charged with two counts of exploitation of the elderly, three counts of exploitation of an elderly or disabled adult; five counts of organized scheme to defraud; four counts of grand theft; one count of petit theft; one count of uttering a forgery and two counts of fleeing or attempted to elude.
A check of state records showed that Bannister was not listed as a contractor or holding any type of business license, a report said.
Bannister, a felon with a Florida prison record, committed all of those scams in the spring and summer of 2016, reports said.
But it took a while for police to arrest him. That’s because on June 15, 2016, deputies were waiting for Bannister as he drove to the Holiday Village Mobile Home Park near Ormond Beach to arrest him. But he managed to get away, driving around a deputy who had tried to use his vehicle to block Bannister and later bailing from his car and running off, a report said.
Seven months later, Bannister showed up again. This time in South Carolina where police said they arrested him because he was impersonating a pastor collecting money for tornado victims.
Bannister apparently had a change of heart and wanted to get his legal problems in Volusia County resolved. So Bannister wrote a letter in November 2017 demanding speedy trial.
Circuit Judge Dennis Craig denied Bannister’s request on Nov. 17, 2017.
“It was believed that the defendant left the state and was concealing his identify and location to avoid arrest,” Craig wrote. “That belief now appears well founded, as the defendant recently filed a “request for fast and speedy trial” using the return address of Evans Correctional Institution in Bennettsville, South Carolina.”
DON'T MISS AN EPISODE, SUBSCRIBE: iTunes | Google Play