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Update: Storm shelter installer takes plea deal

UPDATE 6/16/17 - Our In Your Corner team has new details involving the state's case against Jeronimo Marquez.

The accused scammer pleaded “no contest" to home repair fraud in Canadian County.  

While he's not admitting guilt, he is admitting that the facts alleged in the case are true.

He’ll serve out a 5 year deferred sentence in exchange for 50 hours of community service and $1400 restitution.

There’s still no word on whether he'll be charged in Oklahoma County with the same crime.

Nate and Ashley Leinweber are alleging Marquez gave them a bogus name and disappeared with their $2,000 dollar down payment, a wad of cash left to them by Ashley's dad who passed away from ALS.

“I'm mad,” Ashley said. “He's basically a thief. He needs to be caught.”

Marquez is also accused of running a storm shelter scam.

Two and half years ago more than a dozen families came forward alleging he targeted them on Facebook.

Friday, the In Your Corner team spent the afternoon alerting police about the Leinweber's complaint. White collar crime detectives are now looking into the matter.

We’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE 5/26/17 - Jeronimo Marquez was a no show in court Friday, but his attorney was there on his behalf.

Marquez is charged in Canadian County with fraud.

There are more complaints of the same crime in Oklahoma County.

Marquez was supposed to give Nate and Ashley Leinweber a new backyard.

“I’m mad,” Ashley said. “He's basically a thief. He needs to be caught.”

Instead they say he gave them the disappearing act and a fake name.

His driver’s license had Jeronimo Marquez on it, but the Leinwebers says the name he gave them was Jonathan Morano.

Surveillance video shows Marquez and one of his workers arriving at the young couple's home.

Nate snapped photos of the accused scammer just in case.

“He said, ‘Here's my license,’ so I took a picture of it, just to see that yes this is the guy who signed for it, this is the contract we agreed to,” Nate said.

Unfortunately it didn't do any good.

They say once Marquez got their $2,000 dollar down payment he was gone in a lickity-split.

Two-and-a-half years ago more than a dozen families contacted the In Your Corner team claiming Marquez stole their cash without ever installing their storm shelters.

In each case the allegation is Marquez targets his victims on Facebook in private community groups.

Remember, these families spent years saving up for a shelter.

Their money and peace of mind still gone.

One parent said, “We [are] scared about tornadoes and we have little kids and my oldest kid is very nervous.”

Court records from Canadian County allege Marquez pulled the same shady stunt on a guy in Mustang.   

Friday we waited around the courthouse for him..

When he never showed we went looking for him at his Oklahoma City home.

No sign of the alleged scammer anywhere.  

Nate and Ashley feeling as if they've been kicked in the teeth.

“We had sold her dad's chair when he passed away,” Ashley said.

Ashley's dad had ALS.

His dying wish was that Nate and his daughter use the cash from the sale of his electric scooter to upgrade their backyard. 

“I said, ‘Please don't steal this money from me. It's my dead dad's wheelchair money,” Ashley said.

The In Your Corner bottom line is Facebook is a hot bed for a number of scams.

Just be aware and do your homework.

One resource is the Oklahoma Attorney General's office.

You can file a complaint with their office online.

OKLA. CITY - Gabriela Meillon says contractor, Jeronimo Marquez, targeted her and others on Facebook.

“I gave him a thousand dollars,” she said.

More than a dozen families, all Hispanic, say Marquez took their cash, but failed to deliver and install their storm shelters.

Some of the families spent years saving up for a shelter.

Mayra Jurado says the worst part is losing her peace of mind.

“We scared about tornadoes and we have little kids and my oldest kid is very nervous,” she said.

So just where did Marquez disappear to?

He disconnected his cell phone and was believed to be living somewhere on the city's Southside.

We checked out the address listed on Marquez’s driver’s license. His dad lives there and tells the In Your Corner team he's estranged from his son.

We alerted the Oklahoma Attorney General's office about Marquez, but we didn't stop there.

We're on a mission to protect Oklahomans long-term.

Right now storm shelter installers aren't regulated in our state, which is why the In Your Corner team is joining forces with State Rep. Eric Proctor and other lawmakers to come up with a bill that will reign in renegade installers.

“Right now there is nothing in place to make sure those storm shelters meet any type of standard at all,” Proctor said.

Representative Proctor tried changing the law earlier this year, but the bill he co-authored with another Democrat and Republican failed to get enough support.

“Well, why didn't it get a vote on the floor of the house?” said Proctor. “It's my belief because one of the co-authors, Rep. Joe Dorman, was running for governor.”

Proctor believes this time around will be different since he won't be up against an election year.

“We're going to move it forward again, not as a Republican or Democrat, but as Oklahomans that love our neighbors, that care about people,” he said.

For the families that gave Marquez cash, the damage is already done.

Gabriela says, “we all need to have storm shelters.”

OK Attorney General: File a complaint against Jeronimo Marquez here.