The owner of a Chelmsford oil service company pleaded guilty for taking deposits from clients for work and repairs that were never performed, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone announced this week. The Crier wrote an expose last February highlighting local elderly residents scammed by the heating company owner who apparently used his profession to bilk victims out of cash to cover up an alleged gambling problem.
According to District Attorney Gerry Leone, Michael Santaniello, 60, of Chelmsford, pleaded guilty in Lowell District Court to charges of larceny over $250 from a person over 60 years of age (4 counts), larceny over $250 (6 counts), larceny by check over $250, larceny over $250 by false pretenses, and failure to return leased personalty (personal, movable property).
Lowell District Court Judge Lynn Rooney sentenced the defendant to 2 ½ years in the House of Correction with 18 months to serve and the balance suspended for 2 years. Following that sentence, the defendant was ordered to serve another 2 ½ year House of Correction sentence to be suspended for 5 years. During that period when the sentence is suspended, the defendant will be on probation conditions that he not engage in any employment or volunteer work with the elderly or disabled, not operate or manage his own business, complete a money management course, attend Gambler’s Anonymous, and pay restitution.
“This defendant targeted seniors, many of whom had been his customers for years, and took advantage of them by taking deposits for work he never intended to perform and materials he never provided,” District Attorney Leone said.
In 2009, the defendant won a $1 million prize in the Massachusetts State Lottery, according to officials. Between August 2009 and June 2011, the defendant won an additional $23,000 from the Mass State Lottery.
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$1 Million Lottery Winner Convicted of Stealing from Elderly Customers