Handyman ordered to pay $17,000 in 90 days or face prison

Dennis Coughlin

Dennis Coughlin

A former Douglas County handyman must come up with $17,000 in 90 days or face prison.

A Stateline couple said they hired Dennis Henry Coughlin, 77, in June 2020 after a line break flooded their house while they were gone.

During his arraignment, Coughlin told Judge Tod Young he had $7,000, but on Tuesday when asked how much he had for restitution to the couple, he said “none.”

He said he’d intended to pay the $7,000 but had a water heater go bad at his house and spent the money on that instead.

“Mr. Coughlin is not always truthful,” the homeowner said. “He said he’d pay us $1,000 a month and we never got a penny.”

She said that on April 15, 2020, the couple returned home to find their water heater had gone out and there was mold everywhere in the house. Because it was during the pandemic, nothing was open and even getting a contractor on the phone was next to impossible.

The woman said she had a pop-up on her computer that recommended Coughlin and she called him. They gave him the $17,000 on June 25 and he demanded $30,000 and when told the couple didn’t have that kind of money, walked away from the job.

“It’s been a horrible experience and I cry all the time and can’t stop,” said the woman who is in her 80s.

She said that last year they were finally able to get the house repaired and are living there now.

Coughlin admitted to felony diversion of funds and contracting without a license. He said he didn’t realize the job was in Nevada when he took it. He told the judge he was selling a 2001 work truck that he hoped to get $15,000 for and purchased a trailer in Grass Valley he plans on flipping that should cover the rest.

He was sentenced to 19-48 months, but District Judge Tod Young said he expected the $17,000 restitution be paid within 90 days, and if that didn’t happen, Coughlin would be in violation of his probation.

The charge also carries a minimum fine of $5,000, which Coughlin has 18 months to pay before his probation expires. Coughlin paid $1,800 to Meeks.


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