AWOL contractor accused of defrauding Central Texans captured in North Dakota: sheriff

Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 5:22 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - UPDATE: The owner of a local construction company who has been the target of numerous complaints about uncompleted projects, shoddy work, and construction materials missing from job sites has been arrested in North Dakota and is awaiting extradition back to McLennan County, Sheriff Parnell McNamara confirmed to KWTX.

Clayton Yost, of Crawford, was arrested Thursday by the U.S. Marshall’s Lone Star Fugitive task force and the McLennan County F.A.S.T unit.

Yost is charged with two counts of theft by deception in connection with a local plumber who claims he was not paid for several projects, and a land owner near Bosqueville who had hired Clayton Construction to build a home.

“He is being charged on two counts involving more than $155,00 dollars that he’s accused of swindling people out of,” said Mcnamara. " And this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

McNamara told KWTX his office has identified as many as 20 potential victims with complaints against Clayton Construction.

“There’s another county that’s looking into a million dollars in thefts. Hopefully, they will be filing charges on this character as well,” the sheriff said.

Yost was arrested at a hotel in Killdeer, North Dakota where he was working on projects not related to construction, according to online posts.

Sheriff McNamara says it may take a couple of weeks to get him back to answer the charges in McLennan County.

“We take it personally when a creep like this goes out and defrauds, swindles, and steals from our good citizens, and we’re not going to tolerate it. We’re going to make them accountable for it, you can count on that,” Mcnamara said.


No arrest warrants have been issued yet but the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office confirms it is investigating a local contractor after numerous complaints about shoddy work, unfulfilled contracts, empty promises, and excuses about why the projects weren’t moving forward, even after services and materials were paid for.

Mel Priest hired Clayton Construction to build an apartment in part of a barn on her property. According to a lawsuit filed in McLennan County, things went bad in a hurry.

“I had a lot of metal and beams left from another build to use later and they had to move it. Right off the bat, he took all of my materials and took it home with him,” Priest claimed.

Things got worse after the slab was poured and the framework was done. Priest says the first rain shed light on a serious flaw.

“The first time it rained, the apartment flooded. I sent him the video and that’s when he quit because I guess he didn’t know how to fix it, and he took off,” Priest said.

Mel said she had to hire another contractor to enclose the back of the building to prevent more flooding, an expensive lesson learned.

“I turned into my attorney almost $80,000, not including attorneys fees.”

Mel was added to a text group of others who complained about their dealing with Clayton Construction, including former customers from McLennan, Falls, Blanco and Williamson Counties with losses pushing two million dollars.

The list has grown to more than 20.

Richard Hansard is on this list. He and his wife bought 14 acres near Bosqueville, where they planned to retire.

Shortly after an initial draw of close to $24,000, he says Yost asked for another draw of around $74,000.

What he got for nearly $100,000 was some dirt work and a lot of excuses on why the project wasn’t moving forward.

“He said, ‘my plumber quit. I’m in the hospital with a heart problem,’ or someone had a mental breakdown or ‘I’ve been ripped off.’ Lots of excuses,” Hansard recalled.

Hansard says he had to pay off a plumber so he wouldn’t put a lien on the property after he says Clayton Construction failed to pay him.

In November, Hansard decided to part ways with Clayton Construction.

He was promised a refund. So far, he insists that he hasn’t received anything but more excuses, which were all detailed in a complaint filed with the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office.

‘We can’t figure out where all the money went. We’ve got nothing back from him. This is $104,000 of nothing,” Hansard said while pointing to a mound of framed dirt work and unfinished plumbing.

Just about every day a new name is added to the text list. More frustrated clients who say they didn’t get what they paid for from Clayton Construction.

They say they’ve pretty much given up hope of getting any of their money back. Now they want justice.

“I’d like to see him arrested. I know we’re probably not gonna get our money back. Everyone is resolved to that,” said Hansard, who has since put his property on the market after he says his dreams of retirement turned into a nightmare.

“It’s painful. Every time I come out here I’m reminded we were ripped off,” he said, “It was my wife’s and my dream to move out here and retire and have fun....that’s all gone.”

Attempts to reach Clayton Yost by phone were unsuccessful.

The McLennan County Sheriff’s Office confirms the case is still in the investigative stage as investigators gather information and documentation from alleged victims.