Thunderstorms can leave plenty of damage and often they bring something else: Fraudulent businesses that prey on damage victims.
A Sagamore Hills man hired a alleged "tree removal" company to help him clean up from a storm, investigators say that unlicensed company's shoddy work caused a tree to fall on his home.
It nearly cost the man his life.
"I went back up to the house, was standing by my deck and I hear this CRACK CRACK CRACK and thought, 'uh-oh, that tree is ready to come'."
And it did come. Down on George Homa's Sagamore Hills home, and on George. He tripped trying to get away. The 82 year old was seriously hurt.
"Knee crunched, tibia broken, ankle broken. We got shoulder damage and rib damage. I got 7 rods in my pelvis, titanium plates, and 14 screws keeping things together," George says as he points from his shoulders to his knees.
But this was no accident. After a recent storm, a man investigators say was posing as a tree trimmer approached George
Homa paid Cory Howard and his crew $3,000 up-front to do the work.
"He had a discussion with them, agreed to hire them and also cut down a very large tree," says Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh.
George even asked to see insurance coverage, Walsh says he was shown something that later turned out to be fraudulent.
Howard even had business cards with three different company names and the slogan "We treat your property like it's our own."
"After the tree fell and crushed the homeowner, they disappeared, didn't take care of any of the damage," Walsh adds.
Charges against Howard include theft from a person in a protected class, forgery, falsification, and operating without a vendors license.
Late Thursday afternoon, Cory Howard turned himself in to authorities and is being held in the Summit County Jail.
As for Homa, a long road to recovery is ahead. George’s Medicare has run out and they are paying for medical costs on their own. He faces at least 4 more weeks in the Brentwood Rehabilitation Facility before he can start learning to walk again. His goal is to eventually get back on his feet so he can walk the woods behind his home.
George's family has started a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses.