SARASOTA COUNTY — Stephen Dukes, co-owner of now defunct HD Custom Homes in Englewood, is in custody today, arrested in Sarasota on a warrant for fraud and misapplication of construction funds, records show.
The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office issued warrants for Dukes and his business partner, Matthew Harden, on Wednesday. Detectives charged each man with one count of fraud and 13 counts of misapplication of construction funds. Harden has not yet been captured.
The warrants came two years after the Englewood pair abruptly closed their South Gulf Cove HD Custom Homes model office, leaving more than 50 customers with unfinished homes, liens, permit fees and headaches. Dozens of subcontractors were also left unpaid.
HD Custom Homes clients and subcontractors estimated the builders owed $8 million in deposits and services — with a handful of clients reporting as much as $300,000 in losses from the builders.
CCSO Detective Kevin Bordner with the Economic Crimes Unit investigated 52 cases since 2018.
Some former HD Custom Homes clients had planned to attend Dukes' 1 p.m. arraignment today, with some saying they are wearing orange shirts to signify the color jumpsuit they hope both men will wear for a long time.
According to the arrest report, bond is set at $54,000.
According to the Charlotte County Clerk of Court documents, Selena and Matthew Harden’s unfinished Burwell Circle home in South Gulf Cove will be auctioned off at 11 a.m. Sept. 28. The house went into foreclosure in August.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Matthew Harden is asked to call the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office at 941-639-0013 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS (8477).