Investigations

Exposed by 8 On Your Side, shutter salesman pleads guilty, agrees to pay victims

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) - John Guy Murray sold custom made interior plantation-style shutters to folks throughout the Tampa Bay area. 

Customers paid thousands for them.

Murray, the owner of Shutter Masters, took their money and provided them with nothing.

Now, following a series of 8 On Your Side reports, there is a possibility those victims will be reimbursed.

Law enforcement charged Murray with multiple counts of grand theft and scheming to defraud.  

Before his trial was to get underway this week, Murray, the shutter master copped a plea.

8 On Your Side started tracking Murray a year ago.

That's when Bobby Baldwin of Tarpon Springs called to complain that he paid Murray to make and hang plantation shutters.

Instead, Murray hung Baldwin out to dry.

"$3,500 is a lot of money," Baldwin said. 

Then it was barber Danny Charlemagne of Largo.

"$1,650 is a lot of money, man," Charlemagne explained.

"I bust my butt being in these chairs cutting hair for that $1,650."

Stefan Kesler, of Palm Harbor, shuddered with anger when he realized he was on Murray's list of victims.

"I want him to go to jail," Kesler added. 

"I think the guy's a scam," Charlemagne stated.

Not far off.

We revealed Murray fleeced customers in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough.

"As persistent as you were in bringing the other people out, that really helped the situation," Baldwin added.   

We also found that Murray spent more time in jail than on the street selling shutters.

He got out of Pinellas County jail one Tuesday afternoon and was in Hillsborough court the next morning.

It's there that we caught up with him and asked Murray what he did with the money customers gave him for shutters.

"I'll get you in touch with my attorney, okay?" he said.

Pinellas Consumer Protection investigated Murray's shenanigans, then turned evidence over to prosecutors.

Before trial was to start this week, Murray entered a guilty plea.

He was placed on probation for two years and must repay more than $21,000 to victims.

"I guess that remains to be seen," Baldwin said.  

"You know, hopefully he'll do the right thing."

If he doesn't, John Guy Murray, the shutter master, will end up hanging out in prison.

"We thank you for all of your all's help too, that really spurred the whole deal," Baldwin said.

Murray sold prosecutors and the judge on the fact he will reimburse customers.  

Those victims hope this isn't another one of his phony sales jobs.

If you know of something that you think should be investigated, call our 8 On Your Side Helpline at 1-800-338-0808. Contact Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com.


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