Weatherford Democrat

November 28, 2012

Businessman convicted of theft, gets probation

Christin Coyne
Weatherford Democrat

WEATHERFORD —  

William “Bob” Robert Williams isn’t facing jail for theft in Parker County anymore, but he may not be home free. 

In exchange for full restitution and a guilty plea, the Arlington businessman received five years probation Monday from Parker County District Judge Graham Quisenberry for taking more than $1,600 from a Hudson Oaks couple in exchange for flooring services he never provided. 

However, the Parker County conviction appears to be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the allegations and legal problems Williams is facing. 

Tarrant County records indicate the 56-year-old man, the owner of All Floors, was indicted in May on charges he stole at least $20,000 from a total of 22 victims between May 2009 and May 2010. 

Williams has reportedly operated a flooring business in the Arlington area for years. 

The Hudson Oaks victim also had a business in Arlington and had fixed Williams’ vehicles for a long time, Assistant District Attorney Robert DuBoise said. So when the couple wanted to get wood laminate flooring for their home, they contacted Williams in June 2011. 

Williams gave them a quote of $1,643 and they wrote him a check on the spot for that amount to purchase the materials, according to DuBoise. 

Williams immediately took the check to the bank at Walmart in Hudson Oaks, opened an account in his own name and took $1,600, leaving $43 in the bank, DuBoise said. 

The flooring was never delivered, however, and, after six months of getting the runaround from Williams, they contacted Hudson Oaks police in January and filed a report.  

Detective Rick Reese reached Williams on the phone a couple of times and was told he had received the money but was having issues. 

However, when he tried to have Williams come in and talk with him, “he gets the same kind of runaround from Bob Williams,” DuBoise said. Reese finally obtained a warrant for his arrest in the case. 

Preparing to bring the case before a jury, DuBoise said he worked with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office and contacted many of Williams’ alleged victims in that county to potentially testify should there be a punishment phase of the trial. 

During plea negotiations, the district attorney’s office had only offered prison time, DuBoise said. However, during discussions with the victims before the trial, they said they would prefer to get their money back, according to DuBoise. 

When Williams showed up at court Monday, he was taken into custody and booked into the Parker County Jail on a warrant after failing to appear in court earlier this month. (He was released later that day.)

DuBoise said he spoke with Williams’ attorney and told him they would offer probation, but they had to have a lump sum restitution payment that day. 

DuBoise said Williams had his attorney pick up Williams’ mother, take her to the bank and return with the amount needed. 

Williams pleaded guilty to state jail felony theft and received five years probation, the maximum allowed by state law for the offense, as well as a $250 fine, court costs and a requirement to perform 160 hours of community service. 

Jim Stepp, of Pantego, was named as one of nearly two dozen alleged victims in the Tarrant County indictment. 

Stepp told the Democrat that they were looking for carpet for their house when Williams quoted him a price of $1,600, about $100 lower than competitors. 

It didn’t seem unusual that Williams wanted the money up front, Stepp said. They’d recently purchased furniture similarly. 

However, Stepp said, the carpet never showed up. 

They were initially told there was a problem with the order and it didn’t get put on the truck, according to Stepp.

Williams was not usually at his office and when they were able to reach him, they always got excuses, Stepp said. 

“Long story short, he never gave us our carpet,” Stepp said almost three years later. 

Eventually he wrote a letter to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office, Stepp said. 

Pursuing Williams in civil court seemed like “throwing good money after bad,” Stepp said. 

Though the Parker County couple was able to obtain restitution through criminal court, the civil court system does not appear to have been as successful in obtaining restitution for those claiming Williams owes them money. 

Harry Bearman was awarded a judgement of more than $8,700 by a Tarrant County County Court at Law Judge in June 2010, but his name is listed as a theft victim in the Tarrant County indictment earlier this year. 

Similarly, Kurt Phippen was awarded a judgement of $2,900 in January 2010 by a Tarrant County Justice of the Peace, but his name is also listed as a victim in the indictment. 

Stepp called Bearman pivotal in organizing the group seeking justice. 

“We’ve all kind of stayed in contact about our problems,” Stepp said. 

Williams has initiated his own court proceedings as well, but court filings indicate a judge recently agreed that Williams was abusing the system in order to delay those he owed money. 

Federal bankruptcy court filings show Williams has filed for bankruptcy at least five times since 2001. 

A 2009 bankruptcy case was dismissed for failure to make plan payments, while the latest bankruptcy case was dismissed in January for abuse of the system, court filings indicate. The Chapter 13 trustee told the court he believed Williams was attempting to “manipulate the judicial process” by filing multiple times to delay his creditors. 

The Democrat attempted to reach Williams for comment, but a message left with a family member Tuesday was not returned by deadline.  

A business number listed on the Internet did not work, so it was unclear if Williams continues to do business in the Tarrant County area.