CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) — The only fence in the life of Adam Cronenwett now surrounds him in the Pinelllas County Jail.
The 48-year-old fencing contractor was extradited from Michigan to Florida in February after years on the run. He is charged with 13 felonies, including grand theft and scheme to defraud. Investigators said there are at least 41 victims in half a dozen Tampa Bay counties.
The victims include Jessica Ellis, who claims she paid Cronenwett $2,300 in 2018, but she said he never replaced the fence on her St. Petersburg property.
“We have called almost every day,” Ellis told 8 on Your Side in 2019. “I’ve called the owner’s cell phone number.”
Arrest warrants were issued in 2021 in Polk, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, and Manatee counties, and according to investigators there are other alleged victims in the Orlando area.
The Polk County warrant affidavit states the victims’ losses were up to $2,300.
Polk County Public Information Officer Brian Bruchey said Cronenwett allegedly took advantage of a lot of people.
“He was just like a Venus fly trap,” Bruchey said. “Catch them, get their money and then move on to the next victim.”
During a telephone conversation with 8 on Your Side before the arrest warrants were issued, Cronenwett said his financial problems started when a customer did not pay him. Cronenwett also said he was trying to pay back what he owed his other clients.
Hernando County Sheriff’s Office Detective Scott Reak said Cronenwett did “none of the work” in the cases his department was investigating.
“He didn’t try to fulfill anything,” Reak said. “It’s not like he did a shoddy job. He didn’t show up and do poor workmanship. He did nothing. He took their money and ran.”