Former employees of Weiss Flooring Company shared testimony in the case against former State Rep. Will Dismukes of Prattville Tuesday as the prosecution seeks to prove that Dismukes charged the company for work that was never completed.
The prosecution has focused on two jobs in particular, one at Prattville City Hall and another at the VA Hospital on Perry Hill Road in Montgomery, in which they say Dismukes was paid a total of about $36,000 for work never completed.
Adam Whitley, president of Weiss Flooring, said that when he and investigators went back through the pay applications submitted by Will Dimsukes for his father, Bill Dismukes, on the VA Hospital project, the total square footage of floor prep that was paid out exceeded the amount of square footage at the hospital “by the thousands.”
“The building is about 27,000 square feet,” Whitley said. “The amount paid for was way more than that. Plus other laborers on the job did floor prep as well.”
Whitley said Dismukes, as project manager, would have the sole responsibility that his sub-contractors were not being overpaid and that work wasn’t being double-billed to two different crews.
Chris Tindal, who worked with Weiss for 21 years and worked as an hourly installer on the VA Hospital project, testified that he did floor prep on at least two rooms at the VA Hospital, including one room that had been “skimmed” before he got there, but had been done poorly. Skimming has been a term brought up many times throughout the trial and refers to a process of subfloor preparation in which a cement-like mix is poured onto the existing slab to make it smooth enough to be bonded with the new flooring, such as vinyl. Tindal said in this case that debris such as sheetrock had been left on the floor when the skimming was done, thus leaving many imperfections in the subfloor that prevented him from being able to immediately install the floor.
Tindal testified he was told that Bill Dismukes had been he one to skim, or “patch,” that floor. When asked by a prosecutor whether he would be surprised to learn that someone was paid $28,000 for that work, Tindal replied “Shoot, I wish it had been me.”
“Being that I patched it two more times, I think I’m owed $56,000,” Tindal said.
David Stephens worked with Weiss as a sub-contractor at Prattville City Hall after the original installation after a manufacturer defect in the flooring led the company to redo the floors.
Stephens testified that when the floors were pulled up, the sub-floor was revealed to be a “terrazzo” floor, another term that came up often in the trial on Tuesday. Stephens explained that Terrazzo is a type of sub-floor that typically requires little to no prep work, as it is already smooth enough for the new flooring to be installed. The state also admitted photographs of the pulled-up flooring into evidence, which Whitley testified showed little to no signs of skimming being done, only old glue.
And yet, prosecutors said pay applications for Bill Dismukes included 24,000 square feet of floor preparation for that job.
Paige Stone, who worked as an external accountant with Weiss for four years and then internally as the company’s bookkeeper explained that project managers typically brought her the pay applications for their sub-contractors, and she would bring the checks to Whitley or another person with check-signing authority.
Most of the sub-contractors would come into the office themselves to pick up their checks rather than having to wait for them to come through the mail. But Stone testified there was an exception for Bill Dismukes, who lived in Prattville, It was common practice for Will Dismukes to pick up his father’s checks, she testified, as he also lived in Prattville and could take his checks to his father directly. Stone testified that there wasn’t any concern about this process at the time.
However, the prosecution has entered into evidence at least one check intended for Bill Dismukes, who is legally William Dismukes Jr., that was endorsed by “William Dismukes III,” his son. And prosecutors say many checks intended for Bill Dismukes were either cashed by Will or deposited into Will’s own bank account.
At least one of those checks was for work done at Auburn University’s Cambridge Hall, but Whitely admitted he can’t say whether the work was done, as the floor was installed and any floor prep work would be underneath that flooring.
Defense attorney Rich White took the opportunity in cross-examinations to question whether project managers operate off the trust of their subcontractors, which they all agreed to, painting a picture that Will Dismukes wouldn’t necessarily be checking behind his father’s work to ensure that it was done appropriately.
Tindal’s account of the shoddy patchwork done by Bill Dismukes played into White’s previous line of defense, that Bill Dismukes had done work, it was just poorly done.
White questioned the inclusion of the evidence such as Auburn University’s Cambridge Hall, noting that Dismukes is on trial for theft of property and not forgery, and that if the work was done, someone deserved to get paid for the work. Whitley agreed and said that the particular endorsement of that check is not intended to show theft but to illustrate that Dismukes was signing checks meant for his father.
David Myrick, who worked as a hard tile installer in the VA Hospital’s 13 bathrooms, testified that no waterproofing had been done prior to his arrival, and also testified to seeing Bill Dismukes at times on the job apparently working on patching floors, and also said Bill Dislike had removed one of the showers in the bathroom where Myrick was installing a new shower.
He also testified to other sub-contractors working there on floor prep, including Tindal and another sub-contractor Billy Smith.
White also questioned each of the actual sub-contractors whether it would be normal for them to possibly pick up materials from the warehouse, in defense to the prosecution’s assertion that no flooring materials were procured to do the amount of preparation work that had been billed for. However, while witnesses testified they could get product straight from the warehouse, it was always accounted for with the project managers.
Stone testified that the biggest red flag came when she turned in 1099 tax forms for the 2017 year to Whitley. She said he immediately balked at the figure for what Bill Dismukes had supposedly worked.
The 1099 showed Bill Dismukes had received $164,511 for his work in 2017. His previous 1099 in 2016 only amounted to about $33,500.
“This amount of a jump would be unusual,” Stone said. “It’s almost as if we were only using him to do every single thing.”
The prosecution also further illustrated an alleged repayment plan by Dismukes in which he signed a form admitting to dishonestly taking $32,000 from the company and agreed to pay back $5,000 a month. The prosecution went through text messages between Whitley and Dismukes following their meeting at VN Pho in Montgomery discussing the matter. The text messages backed up Whitley’s account of asking Dismukes for months after that lunch meeting about repaying the money, and Dismukes saying he would bring the money soon.
The trial continues Wednesday as Dismukes’ ex-wife Amber Dismukes is expected to take the stand to authenticate and Instagram post that prosecutors say shows flooring that was taken from the Weiss warehouse and used in Dismukes’ own home renovation project. The prosecution also still has to call investigator Andrew Magnus and Bill Dismukes himself to the stand to testify. The defense also expects to have two witnesses.
The trial could wrap up by end of day Wednesday but is expected to return a verdict sometime Thursday.