Fugitive contractor shows at courthouse but leaves before arraig - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Fugitive contractor shows at courthouse but leaves before arraignment

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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A contractor accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from customers showed up in court to answer to criminal charges, but he vanished before facing a judge. Now, he's a wanted man once again.

Detectives worried they might never see Edward Armstrong again. But he showed up Monday outside courtroom 802 at the Jefferson County Judicial Center.

"Let's not get dramatic over this," Armstrong said. "It doesn't matter what you ask me, I'm not answering."

Armstrong didn't stick around to face our questions, or the judge's.

Armstrong left the courtroom and the courthouse before his arraignment on theft charges, forcing Judge Audra Eckerle to issue a warrant for his arrest. Commonwealth's Attorney Ryan Olberding hopes Armstrong's arrest happens sooner rather than later.

"I think it would be appropriate to follow the court's directive relative to the warrant and get Mr. Armstrong back into custody," Olberding said.

This isn't the first time law enforcement has gone looking for Armstrong. The Indiana man was wanted for more than  a year on felony theft charges that stretched from northern Ohio to southern Indiana. The contractor is accused of taking tens of thousands of dollars from customers for pole barns he never built.

Arrest warrants were issued in Bullitt County, Jefferson County and Harrison County, but Armstrong eluded capture until January when Ohio authorities arrested him on felony theft charges when the same issues happened there.

After Armstrong was extradited to Jefferson County, the county attorney's office dismissed Armstrong's $50,000 bond and released him on his own recognizance despite a court note that listed him as a flight risk. Spokesperson Bill Patteson said the county prosecutor did that because she thought Armstrong would be held in Harrison County while he awaited trial there. But the judge in Harrison County lowered Armstrong's bond from $25,000 to $4,000 which he posted, leaving Armstrong a free man and  detectives skeptical that he would show for his court date in Jefferson County.

"It will all come out in court," Armstrong said as he walked into the courtroom. 

Armstrong arrived early for his court appearance but appeared to grow anxious as his case approached. His public defender said minutes before Armstrong's case was called that Armstrong told him he had to go to his car to get additional documentation. He didn't come back.

Now, a man facing felony theft charges in six counties across three states has a new charge to add to the list: failure to appear.

After learning what happened, Ralph Coke, one of Armstrong's alleged victims, said "It's a joke. The system is not for anybody who is honest. What can you expect?"

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