Former State Rep. Will Dismukes of Prattville fraudulently billed his employer for thousands of dollars worth of work that was never completed, according to the president of the company.
Of course, that was just one side of the story presented to jurors Monday at the Montgomery County Circuit Court as the trial began to determine whether Dismukes is guilty of first-degree theft of property after allegations of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from his former employer Weiss Commercial Flooring over the span of three years.
The alleged incidents took place from 2016 to 2018 before Dismukes began his term as representative for District 88.
Adam Whitley, president of Weiss Commercial Flooring, told defense attorney Rich White that Dismukes stole somewhere between $50,000 to $60,000, although he couldn’t provide an exact figure.
Prosecutor John Phillips told the jury that the evidence would show that Dismukes repeatedly overpaid and exaggerated the work of his father, Bill Dismukes, as a subcontractor and often endorsed his father’s checks and either cashed them or deposited them in his own bank account.
“This is a man that abused his position at his job and betrayed the trust of his employer,” Phillips said in his opening statement. He stole thousands of dollars from his business.”
But White said the evidence will show that no theft took place; instead, Dismukes had to constantly go behind and fix the work of his father, who White painted as “an aggressive drunk.”
White also argued that Will Dismukes may have violated company policy, but did not commit any theft.
“He goes on the weekends and finishes his dad’s work,” White said. “If the work got finished, you pay the man. He picked up his dad’s check in his name. It’s against policy, but it doesn’t make it a crime.”
According to Whitley’s testimony, Dismukes admitted himself to stealing $32,000, by his own calculation, during a meeting at Vien Pho on Bell Road in Montgomery on January 22, 2020. Text messages admitted as evidence show Will Dismukes texted Whitley about meeting for lunch there on that day.
“He tells me ‘I did everything you accused me of; I want to pay you back for all the money I stole,’” Whitley told the jury.
Whitley said Dismukes offered to start by paying back $5,000 a month, and then more once the Legislature returned to session and he would have some extra cash. However, weeks went by without Dismukes following through on his first $5,000 payment.
So when he finally showed up to make his first payment, Whitley drafted a form sketching out the repayment plan with an introductory paragraph explicitly stating the repayment was for $32,000 that Dismukes “dishonestly took during employment with Weiss Commercial Flooring.”
The form was offered into evidence, with what appeared to be the signatures of both Whitley and Dismukes at the bottom. Dismukes also paid his first $5,000 payment at that meeting, Whitley said.
But the check bounced, and Whitley said he didn’t know how to handle a bad check, so he turned to Google. That’s when he finally went to the Montgomery District Attorney’s Office, which resulted in the criminal trial.
Whitley’s first clue that Dismukes might not be operating above board came when he saw an Instagram post published by Dismukes’ then-wife, which he said showed flooring that belonged to Weiss installed in Dismukes’ own home renovation without permission or payment.
Whitley said he confronted Dismukes at that time, and Dismukes “tearfully” admitted to using the flooring himself. Whitley also recalled overhearing Dismukes on the phone speaking to someone he owed money. About half an hour later, he said Dismukes filled out a pay application for his father and told Whitley he was going to run it to him, which Whitley said is unusual.
Will Dismukes and his father share the same name, leading to some potential confusion, but Whitley said he knew for sure that his suspicions were valid when he came across a check explicitly signed “William Nichols Dismukes III,” distinguishing the former representative from his father.
White pressed Whitley about the evidence of Dismukes’ theft. In many cases of the pay applications submitted into evidence for Bill Dismukes, Whitley said he could not say whether the work was done because it is floor prep, which cannot be seen once the floor is installed.
However, one $4,200 project at Prattville City Hall did result in evidence that work wasn’t done, Whitley said, as a manufacturer defect on the flooring material led Weiss to go reinstall the floor.
“There was no patch there,” Whitely said, referring to the floor preparation material that he says should have been used based on regular practice and the payment to Bill Dismukes.
White pressed Whitley for an exact figure and to explain just when Dismukes first stole from the company, and criticized his inability to provide exact details.
“You can’t tell (the jury) a number as president?” White asked. “You have all these documents submitted into evidence. What else do you need as president to tell these people what he stole?”
Whitley also said Dimsukes was paid $32,000 for work never done at the VA Hospital.
White had only just begun his cross examination of Whitley Monday before the trial concluded for the day. The cross examination will continue Tuesday morning before hearing from most or all of the other witnesses in the case, including multiple former Weiss employees who are expected to testify to whether the work was done, as well as investigator Andrew Magnus, who built the case against Dismukes based on the company’s records.