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Feb. 24, 2021

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Vancouver man accused of stealing $65,000 in effort to pay off $200,000 in gambling debts

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor

A Vancouver man is accused of stealing about $65,000 from multiple local construction companies and people in the industry to help pay off more than $200,000 in gambling debts.

Travis W. Saban, 45, appeared Wednesday in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of first-degree theft. Judge Scott Collier granted Saban supervised release; he will be arraigned Feb. 26.

On Dec. 13, 2018, Scott Aldinger, owner of Precision Construction Services Inc., contacted the Vancouver Police Department to report that Saban, an employee and project manager, had been stealing from the company and many other people in Clark County’s construction industry, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Saban placed an order Nov. 15, 2018, for more than $3,500 worth of building supplies at Parr Lumber in Ridgefield on Precision Construction Services’ account. However, the supplies charged were for a job being run by another company. The supplies were delivered to Richard and Kelli Nye’s residence for their project, but the Parr Lumber invoice was never paid, so the company took a loss, the affidavit states.

Police then received a report Dec. 14, 2018, from David “Tyson” Brack who said Saban agreed to remodel his bathroom and kitchen last fall. Saban sent him diagrams in September, he said, which showed an estimated cost of $21,000 for the project. Brack paid Saban and then made multiple attempts to contact him, but he never responded, court records say.

None of the money paid to Saban was used for the remodeling project or supplies. Instead, Saban deposited all of the checks into his OnPoint Community Credit Union account, according to court documents.

Then, on Jan. 7, Patrick Kiely, owner of Red Dog Fabrication, and Mark Dunkle, the company’s project manager, told police Saban asked them to fabricate building supplies for the Nye job. Saban charged the fabricated items to Precision Construction Services’ account. The cost was $1,100, and Red Dog Fabrication took a loss, the affidavit says.

Aldinger, owner of Precision Construction Services, told police Jan. 19 that Saban had also borrowed money from him and numerous other contractors while working for his company. He said Saban asked for multiple loans to deal with child custody issues, according to court records.

Saban borrowed $1,000 from Rodolfo and Saira Chavez, owners of Renovation Drywall and Paint LLC; $2,760 from Ismael “Martin” Castro; and $5,000 from Arthur “Art” Raz of Raz Construction. Saban agreed to pay all of them back, even signing contracts for two of the loans, but he never made good on his promise, the affidavit says.

Last month, detectives received information that Saban is an avid gambler. They contacted the Washington State Gambling Commission and learned that over the past three years, Saban had taken more than a $160,000 loss from The Last Frontier Casino and The Palace Casino in La Center. He also had taken a more than $50,000 loss at the Lucky 21 Casino in Woodland, according to court documents.

A search warrant served on Saban’s bank account found large withdrawals at the casinos, as well as checks deposited from the people he borrowed money from, including $41,000 worth of checks from the Nyes, court records show.

After Saban was arrested, he admitted to ordering supplies for the Nye project and not paying the money back. He said he used about $11,000 from the project for its intended purpose. He also admitted that he took money from Brack for a remodeling job but didn’t use any of the money for it, court documents state.

Saban initially denied having a gambling problem, but when confronted with his bank account history, he admitted that he took a loss of more than a couple hundred thousand dollars. He said he used the money from the loans and jobs to pay it off. He thought he could win to pay people back but never did, he said.