Trying to get a word out of John Mulinski is exhausting. I've followed him into elevators and down stairwells. Either in shades or handcuffs, the contractor's answers are less than complete. So, on Thursday I wanted to give it another try.
Thursday, Mulinski was arraigned on 15 counts of felony theft. He entered a not guilty plea.
Prosecutors say he stole almost $1 million from homeowners and subcontractors like Dave Rimbaugh from Bel-Kirk Heating and Cooling.
"He signed several contracts and never paid me back," said Rimbaugh.
Mulinski has owed him $5,000 for more than two years.
"It's been a long time to get here it's wonderful to see him finally facing the music," said Rimbaugh.
OK. Mulinski didn't want to chat with me.
"John would disagree with the charges and the way these have been characterized in the media," said Mulinski's attorney, Edmund Allen.
So, what happened?
"Construction jobs breed disputes. There's issues about workmanship, contracts, all that stuff and that stuff will be sorted out down the road," said Allen.
Allen didn't have much to say about the state agents that raided Mulinski's home, looking for evidence of failing to pay his workers and the company's Labor and Industry premiums.
"Construction jobs get messy. It seems as if he's been singled out," said Allen.
Mulinski lost his registration to be a contractor in California, Oregon and, of course, Washington. So guess where his new business venture is now? In Montana. I'm not going to chase him there.
If convicted, Mulinski faces up to five years in prison. His next court date is scheduled for Oct. 28.