William Vranicar is sitting behind bars in Will County with his bond set at $800,000.
He is accused of stealing a total of more than $100,000 from suburban families who hired him to remodel their kitchens and bathrooms. They claim he took their money but never finished the job.
WGN Investigates first reported on the families’ allegations in November 2020.
Donna Theimer and her husband are among the plaintiffs.
“I’m a little shocked,” Theimer said. “I can’t believe he was arrested.”
They hired Vranicar to remodel a bathroom in their Shorewood home. They paid his company $17,000 up front, with an additional $6,000 due at the end. But they said the work was not finished and accused Vranicar of refusing to return their money.
He now faces more than 20 crimes, including theft by deception, money laundering and fraud at financial institutions.
“It’s probably one of the greatest [cases] I’ve seen it for a while,” Will County Sheriff Mike Kelley said.
He said his office investigated Vranicar for more than 18 months before charges were finally filed.
“It’s no different than breaking into someone’s house, in my opinion,” Kelley said. “Not only are you taking their money, but now you’re forcing them to hire someone else. Spending money to do work you haven’t completed.
Vranicar’s arrest puts an end to the Theimer family, who posted videos of their experience on social media to help publicize their alleged wrongdoing. In total, they said they heard from more than 100 people who worked with the contractor.
“It wasn’t about the money,” Donna Theimer said. “It was about keeping him from doing this to someone else.”
In an email to WGN Investigates, Jeff Tomczak, Vranicar’s attorney, said, “We intend to hold the state to its burden of proof in this case. We are also currently investigating how this punitive bail amount, much higher than in most murder cases, was entered into this case.
Vranicar’s bond was initially set at over $2 million. It was lowered this week to $800,000. He was expected to pay 10%, or $80,000, but was unable to do so and remains behind bars.
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