Derecho contractor theft charges dismissed after attorney filing error

Published: May. 5, 2022 at 6:23 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Theft charges against a Burlington contractor were dismissed after Linn County prosecutors missed a deadline to file documents related to the trial.

According to prosecutors, Ryan Standard received down payments to perform repairs after the storm and never returned to complete those repairs for multiple homeowners. A district judge dismissed all of those charges because the Linn County Attorney’s Office didn’t file a document called trial information also known as an indictment, which lists all the charges including what happened and who was the victim.

Christopher Bruns, who is a district court judge for the sixth judicial district, said prosecutors have 45 days to file the trial information paperwork after somebody is arrested rather than a person’s initial appearance before a judge. This occurred because Iowa law gives people the right to a speedy trial.

The Iowa Supreme Court interprets the pace for a prosecuting attorney. One of the latest cases regarding this issue was State v. Watson, which said the 45-day time period starts when somebody is arrested rather than when somebody appears in front of a judge. The court said this occurs even when somebody is given a citation and released.

Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks (D) said in a written statement his office was still following the law based on previous decisions and believed the 45-day rule applies when somebody appears in front of a judge. He said his office believes the State v. Watson decision didn’t apply in this case.

“This was a statement of longstanding law but in our opinion, it did not necessarily resolve when the 45-day period starts in the event that a defendant is arrested, posts bond, and is given a delay of initial appearance,” Maybanks wrote.

Judge Bruns disagreed with the county and dismissed all the charges, which means victims can’t get their money back through restitution.

Those victims include Stephen Keyfes, who lives in Northeast Cedar Rapids. He said he’s down about $11,000 after paying Standard to repair his roof, garage, and the siding on his house. Kayes said Standard kept giving him excuses about why the work wasn’t being performed.

“Everybody around us was getting some work done,” he said. “But we were coming into the wintertime and we didn’t know if we had leaks on the roofs or not.“

Our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative team reached out to Standard’s attorneys in the case, but we didn’t receive a response.

The Linn County Attorney’s Office filed new charges against Standard in April 2022 related to the same situation as the original theft charges. But, those new charges are for ongoing criminal conduct rather than theft.

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