CLEARWATER — A Clearwater man accused of firing a shotgun at motorists in Oldsmar on Wednesday stole thousands of dollars in an aircraft parts scheme that closely resembles one his father was embroiled in several years ago, authorities said Thursday.
Todd Christopher Naylor was already in jail Wednesday, charged with a road-rage rampage that ran three cars off the road, when investigators added four counts of grand theft against him. Investigators with the Clearwater Police Department's economic crimes unit say Naylor has stolen money from aircraft parts buyers across the world.
Naylor's business, Aviation International Air Supply, listed parts online and in trade publications and accepted deposits of $6,000 to $40,000 for their sales, said police spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts.
Florida business records show Naylor, 32, has created four companies in the last decade, all dealing in helicopter and aircraft equipment, though none has stayed active for more than two years.
Police began receiving complaints in August, one month after Aviation International was created, from people in Florida, Texas, the United Kingdom and South Africa. All said they had made a deal with Naylor. None received their deliveries.
Deborah Raney, president of a Boca Raton aircraft parts and repair company, said she paid $10,000 in February to Naylor for helicopter blades but never received them. Naylor had provided her with realistic-looking documentation used to track parts' history, she said, convincing her his business was legitimate.
"They got me for $10,000," she said.
Every time she contacted him for the blades, she said, he had a different excuse. Finally, in late April or early May, she drove to Clearwater and went to the business' address. Instead of an aircraft company, she found a car lot.
The scheme closely matches what happened at Thunderbird Helicopter Service, a Clearwater company ran by Naylor's father, Richard Naylor. In the 1990s, the company took $5.5 million from more than two dozen customers for newly refurbished helicopters.
But the aircraft, if delivered at all, were "deathtraps," investigators said. Under pressure from buyers for refunds, Naylor torched his business' inventory at 1710 Calumet St., investigators said.
Both he and his son were charged in 2001. Richard Naylor, at 59, pleaded no contest to 19 counts, including arson, racketeering, forgery and grand theft. In 2006, he was sentenced to five years in prison, though an appeals court last year said the punishment was too lenient and ordered a resentencing. He remains at the Pinellas County Jail awaiting resentencing.
Todd Naylor's charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering, organized fraud and five counts of grand theft were dropped by prosecutors. But he landed back in jail in 2001 when police said he stole a 39-foot Sea Ray boat and took it for a joyride that resulted in $15,000 in damage. He was sentenced to a year of probation.
His legal problems didn't end there. He was twice arrested on misdemeanor battery charges in 2004. One charge was dropped. He pleaded no contest to a lesser offense in the other and was fined $300, records show.
Civil troubles followed him as well. In 2003, an Idaho court ruled that Naylor, who was doing business under the name of Helicopter Support Inc., would have to pay a buyer $57,000 for selling a defective engine the year before.
None of the charges, however, approach the destruction of Wednesday morning, when Pinellas sheriff's officials say Naylor aimed a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun at five people, peppered a car with buckshot pellets and sat in the passenger seat of a red Ford F-150 pickup truck that ran other vehicles off the road.
Naylor now faces 12 charges, including grand theft, aggravated assault, discharging a firearm and criminal mischief.
The man suspected of driving the truck, Jason Strauss, 35, faces seven charges of aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, discharging a firearm and criminal mischief.
Strauss has previously pleaded no contest to burglary, fraudulent use of a credit card and marijuana possession, court records show.
Joy Shontere, a neighbor near Naylor's home at 2159 Karan Way, said Naylor lives there with his mother, Patricia, and his 5-year-old daughter, Autumn. Strauss, who told police he lived there, visited often. The family has dealt with ongoing tension since Richard Naylor's arrest and trial, she said.
"The last few years have dealt them some really bad things," Shontere said. "Sometimes it's hard to pick yourself back up."
Drew Harwell can be reached at (727) 445-4170.