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Man accused of terrorizing drivers with shotgun faces fraud charges

CLEARWATER -- The Clearwater man suspected of terrorizing drivers with a shotgun in a moving pickup truck has been charged with four counts of grand theft for running a fraudulent helicopter and airplane parts business, authorities said this morning.

Todd Christopher Naylor, 32, was already in jail Wednesday for shooting at cars from the passenger seat of a red Ford F-150 pickup truck when the Clearwater Police Department Economic Crimes Unit added the charges, said police spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts.

Before his rampage, police said, Naylor represented himself as an aircraft supply dealer, listing parts online and in trade publications and accepting deposits between $6,000 to $40,000 for their sales. Naylor, of 2159 Karan Way, accepted money from buyers in Pompano Beach, Fl.; Texas; the United Kingdom and South Africa. Police began hearing complaints in August when the buyers said he never sent any parts or refunds.

Naylor listed 1705 N. Hercules, a shop called Showcar Complete Auto Interiors, as his business address, though police believe he had no connection to the shop.

Detectives, who were investigating Naylor during the dealings, believe there may be other victims.

Naylor now faces 11 charges for grand theft, aggravated assault, discharging a firearm, criminal mischief and a parole violation for driving without a license, jail records show. Naylor's roommate and the suspected driver of 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.

Naylor's father, Richard Patrick Naylor, engaged in a similar scheme more than a decade ago when his business, Thunderbird Helicopter Service, took $5.5 million from more than two dozen customers for newly refurbished helicopters. The aircraft were sent in terrible shape as "deathtraps" or never delivered, investigators said during his trial, and in 1998 Naylor torched the business' inventory at 1710 Calumet St. in Clearwater.

Both father and son were charged: Richard Naylor, at 55, for 58 counts ranging from racketeering and organized fraud to arson and grand theft, and Todd Naylor, at 24, for conspiracy to commit racketeering, organized fraud and five counts of grand theft.

Todd Naylor was released from jail on bail the day of his arrest, and prosecutors later dropped the case against him due to a lack of evidence. Within two weeks, though, Naylor was back in the police spotlight after a stolen $80,000 Sea Ray boat he untied for a joy ride withstood $15,000 in damage.

Todd Naylor has also faced charges of disorderly conduct while intoxicated, abusing drugs and more recently driving with a suspended license, according to court records.

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 $57,000 to a suing plantiff for selling a "defective engine" the year before.

Richard Naylor was sentenced to five years in 2006, but an appeals court in 2008 ruled against the lenient punishment and ordered a resentencing. He remains in the Pinellas County Jail.

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Drew Harwell can be reached at dharwell@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4170.

Man accused of terrorizing drivers with shotgun faces fraud charges 07/09/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 9, 2009 1:34pm]

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