LINDON — A Utah County man has been arrested for fraud-related investigations in two counties totaling more than $100,000.
Jerry Lovelace, 55, of Lindon, was booked into the Utah County Jail on Friday for investigation of forgery and communications fraud after investigators say he invited his neighbor, Cliff Miles, to invest in a fire suppression company that didn't exist, taking $43,000 from Miles over three years.
Miles said he'd known Lovelace for 10 years — or thought he knew him.
"When you find out that they're just plain evil and they don't care about you at all, it hurts," Miles said Monday.
A paleontologist by day, and an idea man in his spare time, Miles hatched a brilliant idea with Lovelace to use swimming pools to help protect homes in California and Utah from wildfires.
"The swimming pool water is left behind when fires go through, so we created P.A.S.S. — Pool Assisted Suppression System," Miles said. "You could defend any number of houses that surround it with that one swimming pool."
After approaching Miles in 2010, Lovelace reportedly presented his neighbor with fraudulent documents indicating he had contracted with organizations like the Orange County Fire Authority, according to a police affidavit filed in 4th District Court.
Miles said he took out a second mortgage on his house to finance the idea's transformation into reality. Lovelace, he said, insisted on being the point man with Orange County Fire Authority and others.
Then came delay after delay, prompting Miles to do some fact checking.
"There was no Orange County, and there was no contract with Orange County. It was all fraud, a fabrication, Miles said.
"This guy came up with fraudulent documents, forged signatures," said Orem Police Lt. Craig Martinez.
According to Miles, Lovelace even created a dummy email account set up to look like a California fire official.
"He was a parasite. Jerry Lovelace is a parasite; he likes to feed off of people," Miles said.
Even police are stumped on how Miles could have protected himself.
"Really, what could he have done?" Martinez said. "In this case, I can't really think of anything."
Lovelace was also charged in 3rd District Court on July 22 with theft, a second-degree felony, for allegedly billing a food storage company that employed him for $61,909 worth of sales he never made between April 2012 and September 2013.
Lovelace told investigators he falsely reported that he had made sales to California school districts and Kaiser hospitals in California. He used the money he received for personal gain, charges state.
Because multiple victims are common in fraud cases, investigators say it's possible Lovelace defrauded more people in the state.
KSL News spoke to another Orem man by phone Monday who said he was taken by Lovelace years ago, for $50,000. The man said he actually won a judgment against Lovelace in court but has not seen the money.
"Jerry needs to be stopped," Miles said. "As many people as possible need to know his name, because he comes across as very likeable and very nice and he uses his church affiliations to ensnare you."
Anyone with information about Lovelace is asked to call the law enforcement agency in their area.