Homicide victim linked to failed Punta Gorda builders
A Fort Myers man who was shot and killed early Tuesday was a licensed contractor associated with two failed Punta Gorda builders whose companies are under investigation in a series of construction fraud complaints. A spokeswoman for the the Fort Myers Police would not reveal whether the department is looking into homicide victim Clifford C. Joyner's links to builders Gary Oben and Dean Rossey, the principals in Floridian Gulf Coast Homes, Ideal Homes and G C Construction.
Homicide victim linked to failed Punta Gorda builders
Joyner pulled permits for builders Rossey and Oben
A Fort Myers man who was shot and killed early Tuesday was a licensed contractor associated with two failed Punta Gorda builders whose companies are under investigation in a series of construction fraud complaints.
A spokeswoman for the the Fort Myers Police would not reveal whether the department is looking into homicide victim Clifford C. Joyner's links to builders Gary Oben and Dean Rossey, the principals in Floridian Gulf Coast Homes, Ideal Homes and G C Construction.
Joyner served as the license holder for Floridian Gulf Coast Homes and G C Construction, which were recently relocated from Cape Coral or Punta Gorda to the same address as Ideal Homes at 26530 Mallard Way. The building at that address has been vacant for about three months, according to a local subcontractor familiar with the company.
Joyner, 60, of Madison Avenue, Fort Myers, was killed in an early-morning shooting in which a woman was also shot. The woman, whom police have declined to identify, was reportedly in serious condition at Lee Memorial Hospital.
"We still have a lot of unanswered questions," said Maureen Buice, spokeswoman for the Fort Myers Police. "It's really early in the investigation."
She said police hope that the woman will recover sufficiently to provide information to detectives.
Rossey, contacted by phone Wednesday afternoon, said he found the news of the homicide "very surprising." He said he had worked with Joyner for the past five or six years.
"I knew the man very well," Rossey said. "He (was) kind of a shy, quiet guy. I couldn't imagine him having any enemies."
Rossey was asked to comment about whether animosity over some of the failed construction contracts could have played a role in the attack.
"I'm not going to martyr him," Rossey said. "The man's dead. Come on, leave it alone."
Referring to the construction deals, Rossey added, "He had nothing to do with any of that stuff."
He explained that Joyner's role was merely to pull permits and oversee construction.
Joyner held a statewide contractor's license since 1983 and had only one citation, in October 2006, for being unaware that an unlicensed subcontractor was working on one of his jobs, according to the Department of Profession Business Regulation.
Rossey also pointed out that Joyner never worked for Ideal Homes, which was the subject of the recent complaints.
Ideal ground to a halt early in 2007 after dozens of subcontractors began filing liens claiming they'd gone unpaid on contracts totaling about $1 million, court records show.
Rossey and Oben had purchased Ideal from its former owners in November 2006. The new owners also hired two of the previous owners, Brian Martin and Robert Adamo, to serve as the company's licensed contractors. They left the company and have since filed a lawsuit against Rossey and Oben.
Rossey said he "has no clue" why Joyner was killed or any knowledge about the identity of the woman who was shot.
"He was very laid-back, very friendly, the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back in a heartbeat without even knowing you," Rossey added.
Fort Myers Police spokeswoman Shelly Flynn was asked if detectives were aware of Joyner's ties to the failed construction companies. She said inquiries about the construction investigation need to be addressed to the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office. She declined further comment.
Charlotte County Sheriff's spokesman Bob Carpenter said a couple of detectives in the sheriff's economic crimes unit are investigating six formal complaints concerning Ideal Homes.
"Our detectives did have discussions with (Joyner)," Carpenter said. But, he added, Joyner's homicide "really shouldn't affect the case up here."
The Sheriff's Office launched the investigation after state Rep. Paige Kreegel, R-Punta Gorda, forwarded more than 30 complaints from subcontractors and homebuyers to the Statewide Prosecutor's Office several months ago.
In response to Kreegel's submittal, an assistant statewide prosecutor recently concluded that some laws, including the misappropriation of construction funds, may have been broken.
Kreegel said he has no comment on Joyner's death.
"It's a terrible thing when something like that happens," Kreegel said. "We don't know what it's related to."
Dave Bickowski, owner of a metal fabrication business in Punta Gorda, who claims he's owed some $13,000 by Ideal, said he wasn't surprised when he saw a television news report linking Joyner to G C Construction.
He pointed out Joyner was connected to individuals accused in complaints of fraud. He also pointed out that, until recently, sheriff's detectives had been telling victims their complaints amounted to "civil matters" that didn't warrant further investigation.
"Because of the lack of response to what had happened over all of this, it doesn't surprise me in the least that a murder may have been committed over it," Bickowski said.
Wanda Cass, 61, who runs a small day care at her house across the street from the duplex where the shooting occurred, described Joyner as "a nice guy, quiet."
The man was often not at home, she said. The woman, however, had frequent visitors who only stayed a short time, Cass observed.
"She would be dancing around outside in the middle of the day," she said. "The woman was a little wild."
Amy Sowder of the Fort Myers News Press contributed to this report.
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