Waterville contractor who scammed elderly customers pleads guilty to felony theft charge

AUGUSTA — A Waterville contractor who scammed more than 20 Mainers, a majority of them elderly, out of a total of $115,000 by taking deposits for work he had no intention of doing pleaded guilty Thursday to a single felony charge of theft.

Tony J. Glidden, 34, who was the owner of Mainely Roofing and Siding, defrauded more than 20 customers, 16 of them over the age of 60, in 2020 and 2021, by taking deposits for home improvements and then never doing the work promised, according to prosecutor Suzanne Russell, an assistant attorney general for the state.

District Court Judge Sarah Gilbert said the sentencing would come later so she could hear from his victims who “were very much affected by your scheme to prey on some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”

“I can only imagine what it must feel like to have, potentially, your life savings stolen out from under you,” Gilbert said. “We will hear from those victims, how you’ve affected their lives and their ability to trust people, as well.”

Victims included a now-84-year-old Belgrade widow who gave Glidden $25,000 she and her late husband had been saving up for home repairs for years as a deposit on a $39,000 job replacing her home’s siding and windows. He never did the work and when she questioned him about it he gave her a litany of excuses, claiming he was slammed with work, guys working for him had stolen money from him, and that he had been screwed over by a lender. When she threatened to go to the police, he told her she’d be leaving his child without a father.

Russell said Glidden gave those same excuses, and many more, to other customers who said he refused to refund their money. Court testimony Thursday indicated Glidden cashed deposit checks nearly as soon as he got them, and apparently spent at least some of the money on drugs and online gambling.

Glidden, who faced additional theft charges, pleaded guilty to one count of Class B theft, a felony charge in a plea agreement that dropped the other charges against him.

Although he wasn’t sentenced Thursday, the agreed-upon sentence would be seven years in prison, with all but three of those years suspended, and three years of probation. He’d also be ordered to pay restitution, in monthly payments, of $115,000 to his victims. The suspended sentence means he’ll serve only three years if he complies with the terms of his probation, but could face the full seven years if he does not.

Conditions of his probation include he take part in substance use disorder treatment and gambling addiction treatment, submit to random searches and be tested for drugs and alcohol, have no contact with any of his victims, and to not solicit, manage or possess customer funds.

His sentencing was put off, likely until next month, because many victims want to testify about what he did to them, Russell said.

Mainely Roofing and Siding’s Facebook page advertised senior citizen discounts and boasted having 500 customers and no complaints. Glidden employed two business managers, who Russell said quit after they realized Glidden wasn’t doing the work he was taking deposits for. One former manager said he quit after realizing jobs weren’t being done and when work was done for other customers, workers appeared to be on drugs. The manager said Glidden told him he was using drugs and gambling online, and borrowed money from him on a regular basis, to make payroll.

He required customers to make down payments well above the one-third of the project’s total cost allowed by Maine law, Russell said. He’d request customers make deposits either through an online app he used, or by check and, if payment was by check, to make the check out to his name.

He would tell most customers, on estimates, that the work would start in four to six weeks, then start a pattern of delay and avoidance, the prosecutor said, but no actual work. When refunds were requested he’d tell customers their contract stated that deposits were not refundable.

Some customers of Glidden told authorities building suppliers, including Hammond Lumber, initiated legal action against them for supplies Glidden ordered from them, on credit, because Glidden owed Hammond more than $40,000 in unpaid bills. The suppliers ceased efforts to place liens on Glidden’s customer’s properties after learning he had not performed the work in question for them.

The Belgrade widow, who attended Thursday’s hearing but the Kennebec Journal is not identifying out of concern she could be targeted for future fraud, said that Glidden indicated after she paid him the $25,000 “deposit” work would start in about four weeks after the windows arrived. He emailed her: “Thanks for your business we can’t wait for your dream to be complete.”

He cashed her check the same day she gave it to him, after which he emailed: “I received the deposit check and it’s safe with me,” and telling her as soon as the funds were made available he would order the windows and siding. No work was ever done.

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