Alabama contractor charged with embezzlement of more than $250,000 for Panhandle home construction project

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Michael Barnes mug shot
Michael Barnes (mugshot provided by Walton County Sheriff's Office)

An Alabama man has been charged with embezzlement for misappropriating money after he was hired to build a home in Walton County.

Walton County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation in August 2023 regarding a complaint from a victim regarding Michael Scott Barnes, 59, of Dadeville, Alabama, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office said in a Feb. 16 statement.

In March of 2022, the victim hired Barnes as a general contractor to build a home for their family in Santa Rosa Beach. The victim paid Barnes close to a million dollars but, after a few months of construction, hundreds of thousands of dollars went missing and construction nearly stopped. The victim was forced to hire a new contractor and reported Barnes to FDBPR.

During the investigation done by Walton County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Bureau, it was discovered Barnes misappropriated construction payments of $262,130 paid by the victim. The money was never returned, and Barnes could not properly account for where the money went.

After a comprehensive investigation, a warrant was approved for Barnes’ arrest on Feb. 1.

On Feb. 9, after repeated attempts to allow Barnes to turn himself in, Investigators reached out to Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Office, Alabama, and requested they take him into custody. That same day, Barnes was arrested.

On Feb. 15 Barnes was extradited to Walton County Jail where he received a $15,000 bond.

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