Russell Bannister

Russell Bannister

Volusia County Corrections

If your home sustained any Hurricane Dorian-related damage, don’t call Russell Bannister.

The self-proclaimed “hurricane handyman” sits in Volusia County jail on multiple charges stemming from a 2016 scam ring that targeted the county’s elderly residents with extensive honey-do-lists. Deputies say Bannister, 47, would agree to do repairs then disappear once receiving an up-front payment.

According to an incident report, Bannister’s alleged handyman scheme swindled five people between the ages of 70 and 85 for over $20,000.

In one instance, a 78-year-old Ormond Beach woman gave Bannister $1,100 to order a list of materials. Bannister instead showed up four days later wanting her to stand outside so he could test her phone. She later realized $6,900 was missing, the report said.

State records do not show Bannister having a contractor’s license or a registered business in the state of Florida.

It took more than three years for Bannister to be apprehended. When authorities went to arrest him in 2016, he escaped police and fled to South Carolina. There, he assumed a new identity, police say.

The alias, however, could only do so much. By 2017, Bannister was in Evans Correctional Institution in South Carolina after being caught impersonating a pastor and soliciting donations for tornado victims.

He was transferred Aug. 28 to Volusia County, where he remains in jail on a laundry list of charges including exploiting the elderly, grand theft and fleeing the police.

C. Isaiah Smalls II is a reporter covering breaking and trending news for the Miami Herald. Previously, he worked for ESPN’s The Undefeated as part of their inaugural class of Rhoden Fellows. He is a graduate of both Columbia University and Morehouse College.





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