Edmond Wormwood and Billy Adams, both from Maine have been arrested. Both are being charged with Larceny by Scheme for allegedly bilking a ninety two year old Haverhill, Massachusetts man out of ninety thousand dollars. A third suspect, Michael Mills is also being sought in this crime. According to a report on Boston.com the defendants appeared at the victim’s home in the winter and offered to do some small jobs. They began with some tree work. They also painted and cleaned the victim’s cellar. The work was considered subpar. The victim’s bank froze the account after noticing unusual spending patterns. The police were notified. A couple of weeks ago the men were back in this area, getting another check from the victim and trying to cash it. Authorities allege that both Adams and Mills have been involved in other schemes similar to this one. Right now the case is pending in the Haverhill District Court. I would imagine that the Essex County District Attorney’s office will prosecute this case in the Superior Court located in Salem, Massachusetts.
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Larceny by a Single Scheme is a felony in Massachusetts. The crime is set out in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266 Section 30. The law states that anyone who steals over two hundred fifty dollars from a person over the age of sixty-five can be sentenced by up to ten years in prison. If the case is kept in the district court then there is a maximum jail sentence of two and one half years. The “single scheme” aspect of the crime is established through case law. In 1965 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that “where it appears that successive takings are actuated by a single, continuing criminal impulse or intent or are pursuant to the execution of a general larcenous scheme, such successive takings constitute a single larceny regardless of the extent of the time which may have elapsed between each taking.”
The obvious question to answer in this case is whether or not the services provided by the defendants could have reasonably supported the ninety thousand dollars that victim paid. There is no doubt that tree work, painting and cleaning the basement do not warrant that high a bill. If the defendants performed remodeling work that might change things somewhat. That defense would require them to show payment for supplies and perhaps a contract verifying the agreement between them and the victim. The comment that the workmanship was subpar is subjective and it would be difficult to have an opinion as such entered into evidence. The defendant’s biggest problem is that the victim is ninety two years old. No judge or jury will have sympathy for these guys if it looks like they took advantage of an elderly person. The Essex County District Attorney’s office has a page on its website identifying its position on elder abuse. Their position suggests strongly that if these men are convicted for committing this crime they will be going to state prison for a significant time period. This makes their selection of a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer particularly important.
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