CLEVELAND — It’s been a long time coming for two businessmen who stole tens of thousands of dollars from their clients. Today, those running a Lakewood cabinet company learned their fate in court.
From the first time we tried to ask Chris Cook why he was stealing clients’ money, he ran from our questions. “That’s not me!” he said while running away from the cameras.
The judge sentenced Cook and his Complete Wholesale Direct business partner Ed Burant to 30 days in jail, and they have to pay back more than $30,000 to five victims.
“This is a lot of money,” said Judge Hollie Gallagher.
‘WANTED’ TO PAY BACK; VICTIMS NOT BUYING IT
Both Cook and Burant spoke out in court today. “I would just like to apologize for everything that happened,” said Burant.
“I always wanted to pay these people back, and I apologize,” said Cook.
Victims Kitt Davis and Regina Weekes didn’t buy that the men “wanted” to pay the money back. “That was a bunch of nonsense,” said Davis. “(Cook) told me to go ahead and call the police because it’s (a) civil (matter, not criminal). That doesn’t sound like somebody whose intention is to repay.”
“Yeah, okay, you wanted to (pay us), but you didn’t,” said Weekes. “You shouldn’t have taken the money in the first place; then we wouldn’t be here.”
PAY RESTITUTION, JAIL ON WEEKENDS
The men do have jobs, and the judge said because of that, she wants the victims to be paid back as soon as possible. She’s allowing Cook and Burant to work during the week and then spend the next 15 weekends in jail.
“So, if you have to go to prison, you still keep your job and make sure you make your payments,” said Davis. “So, I appreciated that.”
In the end, the women said they are satisfied with the outcome so far and are glad the men will be forced to pay restitution through the justice system. “I am just glad that they are going to be held accountable,” said Weekes. “I’m glad that someone is going to be monitoring whether they give me my money back.”
“I appreciate that a signal is being sent out to other folks who may decide they’re going to do something like this,” said Davis.
Both Cook and Burant also got five years probation.
They are still facing similar theft charges in Lorain County for customers that say the men stole from them, too.
You can read more about Chris Cook and his business below.