Area Price Gouging Arrests

The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office has arrested two men from North Carolina who charged an elderly Mary Esther resident triple a fair market price for tree removal services.

William Harold Smallwood, age 38, of Raleigh, NC and Christopher Davlynn Lindsay, age 37, of Cary, NC, were arrested Thursday after the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office learned of apparent price gouging by two men doing business as "Black Bear Tree Service."

A 71-year-old resident of U.S. Highway 98 in the Florosa area, west of Hurlburt Field, said she paid Smallwood and Lindsey $8,500 because she was desperate for tree removal necessary for electric power to be restored to her home.

A local tree contractor estimated the price for the work at $2,000 to $3,000.

Smallwood and Lindsay were charged with price gouging, conducting business without a license, and exploitation of an elderly person.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office seized their equipment, including a pickup truck, a "bobcat" earth mover, chain saws and other tools.