Attorney for former Quincy business owners facing theft charges claims detective gave false testimony to grand jury

Michelle and Andy Reardon

Michelle Reardon, left, and Andy Reardon | Photos courtesy of Hernando County (Fla.) Sheriff's Department

QUINCY — The attorney for a husband and wife, former owners of a Quincy business now facing two theft charges, has filed a motion to dismiss a grand jury indictment in the case. He claims the indictments would not have occurred without false testimony and “misrepresentations” during the grand jury proceedings.

St. Louis attorney Justin Summary appeared Tuesday afternoon for a status hearing before Judge Tad Brenner. His clients, Andy P. Reardon, 58, and Michelle M. Reardon, 52, of Spring Hill, Fla., were not in the courtroom for the hearing.

The Reardons owned Backyard Adventures Pools and Spas, 1800 Broadway, in Quincy. A Dec. 8, 2021, story in Muddy River News detailed multiple complaints filed by dissatisfied customers against the business for shoddy work installing pools and spas.

The Reardons were arrested and booked in the early morning hours of Sept. 27 by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Department in Brooksville, Fla., on an Illinois warrant. Both were released the following day, and both posted a $1,000 bond on Oct. 4.

Both have been charged with two counts of theft by deception — one for between $10,000 and $100,000, a Class 2 felony, and one for between $500 and $10,000, a Class 3 felony.

Theft of more than $10,000 is a Class 2 felony, punishable for between three and seven years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Theft of more than $500 is a Class 3 felony, punishable for between two and five years in prison.

The Reardons pled not guilty during their Nov. 21 arraignment. They had an April trial date, but it was stricken from the docket after Tuesday’s brief hearing.

An Adams County grand jury indicted the Reardons on Sept. 7 on the two charges of theft. Each count said the Reardons “knowingly obtained by deception control” over property — belonging to owner Melissa Drew on or about Nov. 22, 2021, in the first count and owners Stephen and Debra Kraus on or about Dec. 1, 2021, in the second count. The Reardons allegedly took money from Drew and the Krauses and deceived them about what they were supposed to get.

Summary’s 11-page motion noted that a single witness, Det. Zach Bemis with the Quincy Police Department, testified during the grand jury proceedings. He claimed Bemis was “false in multiple key respects” and was used to “mislead” the grand jury to secure an indictment of the Reardons.

“The state cannot establish that a crime of theft occurred without at least some evidence that Andy Reardon or Michelle Reardon ‘obtained’ money from the alleged victims,” the motion read.

Summary’s motion noted an exchange from the state’s attorney and Bemis:

Q: And they as well had purchased a hot tub or something like that from the Reardons?
A: Yes.
Q: And written them a check?
A: Yes.
Q: So in other words, Ms. Drew and Mr. Krause had provided money to Backyard Adventures, to the Reardons?
A: Yes.
Q: And the Reardons never took that money to give to the actual supplier to order the hot tubs or do those things? 
A: That’s correct.

“The above testimony was false in a number of respects,” Summary wrote. “Nothing was purchased from ‘the Reardons.’ As the contacts and checks indicate, the pool and hot tub at issue were both purchased from Backyard Adventures, which is its own entity, a limited liability company. There is (no) evidence that Andy Reardon or Michelle Reardon were involved in the signing of the contract between Backyard Adventures and the alleged victims, nor is there any evidence that the defendants were even present when the alleged victims’ funds were given to Backyard Adventures.”

Summary claimed the recipient of the alleged victims’ money was Backyard Adventures, and no evidence exists that either of the Reardons ever received the alleged victims’ funds or that the funds ever left the business account of Backyard Adventures. He said Michelle Reardon doesn’t have an ownership interest in Backyard Adventures.

“The charges in this case are nothing more than an effort by the state’s attorney to use this court as a debtor’s prison in an effort to collect on an alleged business debt,” Summary wrote. “Despite these crimes being specific intent crimes, the state failed to show any involvement whatsoever by the defendants other than Andy Reardon having an ownership interest in the business and Michelle Reardon being married to Andy Reardon, the business owner.

“The facts in this case clearly point to a civil business dispute and never should have resulted in criminal charges being filed.”

Summary wrote the state alleges, in the Krause complaint, the business owner committed theft by deception when his business provided a different pool than what the customer ordered. He claims the state and Bemis knew Backyard Adventures provided the Krauses a pool but sent a crew to their property on multiple occasions to install their pool, but that information was withheld from the grand jury.

He also wrote that the state alleges that, in the Drew complaint, the business owner committed theft by deception when the business failed to fulfill the owner in a timely manner and subsequently contracted with another company to fulfill (and upgrade) the order. He claims the state and Bemis knew Backyard Adventures paid another company, Watkins Wellness, to take over the contract to provide Drew with an upgraded spa (but she refused to have them install it).

A hearing on the motion to dismiss is scheduled for April 15.

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