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HAMMOND -- A 49-year-old Gary man was charged for the second time in a month with defrauding an elderly woman, who paid him for home repairs he then never performed, Lake Criminal Court records show.

Scott C. Stelow took $1,000 from a 93-year-old Munster woman in October and $500 from an 81-year-old Hammond woman in November, according to probable cause affidavits.

The women contacted Stelow after seeing an ad for his "Mister Handyman" business in The Times, court records say. The Times canceled Stelow's ads after learning of an investigation by Hammond police.

Stelow met with the Hammond woman Nov. 13 and provided her with a written estimate of $800 to replace her front stairs, an affidavit says. Stelow allegedly cashed a $500 check she wrote as a deposit the same day, but never returned to complete the work.

In the Munster case, Stelow entered into a contract for $1,900 in work, which included installing a lock and planting seed, police said. He cashed a $1,000 check provided by the woman, but never performed the work, court records say.

The woman's daughter later called Stelow to cancel the contract and seek a refund, but he allegedly told her the money had been spent, records say.

Stelow was charged Nov. 30 in the Hammond case and Nov. 26 in the Munster case. A plea of not guilty was entered in the Munster case, records show.

Stelow also is facing a petition to revoke his probation in a similar Highland case.

Court records show Highland police secured felony theft and misdemeanor home improvement fraud charges against Stelow in February. He pleaded guilty in May to a misdemeanor charge. A petition to revoke his probation was filed Nov. 26, records show.

In addition, charges filed Nov. 26 allege Stelow drove drunk and failed to immediately stop at the scene of the crash in East Chicago, according to court records.

Stelow's next court date is set for Dec. 11.


Public Safety Reporter

Sarah covers crime, federal courts and breaking news for The Times. She joined the paper in 2004 after graduating from Purdue University Calumet.