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Contractor accused of misusing $1 million of investor’s money

VERO BEACH — A contractor hired to build a home on Marsh Island off the Wabasso bridge has been arrested and charged with misspending more than $1 million worth of an investor’s money.

Stephen McKenzie, of Melbourne, was arrested this week after the investor began noticing the spending of funds which were unaccounted. He is in jail with bond set at $1.3 million.  

The investor had purchased a lot in the Marsh Island subdivision to have McKenzie build a spec home. The contractor and investor were then supposed to split the profits of selling the home once completed.

Instead of using the investor’s money solely to buy supplies and hire subcontractors for the work, McKenzie is accused of spending $1.19 million of the money on his own personal projects and other work unrelated to the Marsh Island home, according to the arrest warrant issued for the contractor.

The alleged siphoning of funds occurred over a period of years, beginning in 2006, the warrant states.

The first of the fraudulent draws from the account happened May 25, 2006, according to the warrant, when McKenzie received $247,500 from Seacoast National Bank. Of that, $28,000 was paid to a pool and spa company for work being done at another worksite unrelated to the investor’s project.

McKenzie told investigators that he sometimes used funds from the account for personal projects, including the pool, because the investor owed him for his $1,250 weekly salary and for fronting the investor’s property taxes and monthly property interest payments, among other fees McKenzie said he paid out of his own pocket.

McKenzie faces three felony charges that include misapplication of construction funds, grand theft, and forging bank bills/checks/drafts/promissory notes.

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