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Contractor Sent to State Prison for Series of Scams, Thefts

January 3, 2017


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jovin Jose, 215.348.6589, jjose@buckscounty.org

A home-improvement contractor who used his father’s business credentials to steal tens of thousands of dollars in rental equipment, wrote bad checks for vehicle repairs and ruined a customer’s finances while rendering his house unlivable, was sentenced today to state prison by a Bucks County judge.

Todd Michael Craig, 31, who did business as T.M.C. Mechanical, was sentenced by President Judge Jeffrey L. Finley to serve two to seven years in state prison, with a concurrent seven years of probation.

Finley also ordered Craig to pay more than $90,000 in restitution to his victims, imposing a payment plan of $500 per month as a condition of probation.

Craig, of North Wales, pleaded guilty on Nov. 9 to multiple theft-related felonies. Those convictions added to a history of at least eight prior convictions, most of them for theft-related crimes.

“Your background shows that you knew exactly what you were doing,” Finley told him.

Craig came under police scrutiny in late January 2016, when he failed to return three expensive pieces of equipment that he had rented weeks earlier from Sunbelt Rentals in Upper Southampton Township.

On Dec. 23, 2015, Craig had leased a tandem axle trailer and a Bobcat mini-excavator from Sunbelt. Five days later he rented a Bobcat Skid-Steer loader. The total value of the equipment was $90,000.

Craig had rented the machinery using the name of his father’s construction business. His father told police that Craig had not worked for him in many years, and that he never authorized his son to rent anything using his company’s account.

Police located the Bobcat machinery, concealed under tarps, at a house in Buckingham Township where Craig had been working for several weeks. Identifying information such as vehicle identification numbers, serial numbers and stickers identifying the equipment as Sunbelt property had been removed from the equipment or painted over, police said.

Craig, meanwhile, was well into fleecing the owner of the Buckingham home where police had found the rental equipment. After winning the trust of the homeowner with a competent furnace repair, Craig overcharged him thousands of dollars for additional work on his well and well pump – some of which was never done.

Craig swiped silver and other personal items from the owner’s house, and stole credit cards that he used to rack up thousands of dollars in charges. Even worse, he jackhammered a trench through the concrete slab of the home as part of an unnecessary septic system repair, creating an unlivable mess and a stench that forced the homeowner, Jonathan Becan, to seek shelter elsewhere.

A year later, Becan said in court, he still can’t return to his home, and has had to borrow from family and friends to stay afloat financially and repair the damage done by Craig.

“I went into financial ruin because of the crimes and actions committed by Todd Craig…,” he told Finley. “It has been almost one year to the day that I have been unable to live in my home.”

The portion of Becan’s losses not covered by insurance exceeds $73,000. His insurer is owed almost $2,000 more by Craig. Sunbelt was out more than $14,000 from Craig’s unpaid rental fees and the costs of repairing the damage he caused to the company’s equipment.

Craig also pleaded guilty to writing two bad checks to Mike Wass Auto Center in Doylestown for almost $1,500 in repairs to his pickup truck and his girlfriend’s car. He was ordered to reimburse the business for those losses as well.

Craig apologized to his victims, saying that he is a competent construction worker who got in over his head by trying to run his own business.

Craig said he hired unreliable workers who did inferior work when he wasn’t around. Instead of seeking help from his father when things got out of control, he stubbornly pressed on, he said, “resulting in this chaos that never should have went as far as it did.”

“It was lousy and disrespectful, the way I went about it,” he added. “Obviously I am not very good at multitasking…I am a horrible business owner, and will never own a business again.”

Assistant District Attorney Jovin Jose, who prosecuted Craig, disputed the notion that the defendant was a one-time bumbler whose main problem was incompetence.

“This was an ongoing series of thefts,” Jose told Finley. “It was just an ongoing series of acts of deceit.”

Finley rejected defense attorney Michael Parlow’s suggestion that Craig receive probation or a lesser county sentence so that he could begin sooner to repay his victims.

“You’ve had six, seven or eight prior opportunities to learn your lesson,” the judge said, referring to Craig’s 10-year criminal record.

Finley warned that if Craig failed to make his $500 per month restitution payments after being released from prison, he could be imprisoned for as long as seven years. Still, the judge said he doubted that Craig would ever have the financial wherewithal to make his victims whole. 

“One thing I know is that I can’t get blood or water from a stone,” the judge said. “I can squeeze it as much as I can, but it’s just not happening.”

Approved for release by Gregg Shore, Deputy District Attorney.

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