JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -

Two Columbia men pleaded guilty to felony charges of stealing and merchandising practices in connection with a contracting scam.

Missouri Attorney Genral Chris Koster says Kendale Lamont Williams and Joshua B. Whitlock each pleaded guilty to two counts of felony stealing by deceit and one count of felony merchandising practices.

Koster says the pair took thousands of dollars from customers to build barns and structures. They operated under the business name Select Living Designs.

Williams and Whitlock would cash customers' checks then never complete the work. In one instance, they hired a subcontractor in order to obtain an even larger down payment from a customer. Williams and Whitlock never paid the subcontractor and wrote a bad check to a company that furnished materials.

Prosecutors say Whitlock has started paying back some of the scammed customers. Both Whitlock and Williams were placed on five years of supervised probation and they must pay back approximately $16,000 to the customers.