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Man Pleads to Felonies in Classic Car Restoration Case

January 6, 2017


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Alan J. Garabedian, 215.348.6296, ajgarabedian@buckscounty.org

A Buckingham Township man pleaded no contest today to five theft-related felony charges involving restoration work that he was paid for, but did not perform, on a Texas man’s classic vehicles.

As part of a plea negotiation, Anthony J. Calderaio agreed to pay full restitution of $100,400 to the victim, Arthur Kohn of Stafford, Texas.

If Calderaio pays at least $50,000 of that amount by his sentencing date, prosecutors will either withdraw the charges against him or grant him Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, a program normally reserved for nonviolent, first-time offenders.

Either way, Calderaio, 55, could emerge without a record of conviction, provided that he pay the remaining restitution in monthly installments to Kohn over a period of no more than 36 months.

If Calderaio misses a payment, Judge Wallace H. Bateman Jr. warned, the plea agreement will be withdrawn and Calderaio will face trial and possible state prison time if convicted.

Kohn had retained Calderaio in 2014 after viewing a web site for Calderaio’s restoration business, Custom Classic GTO. The business billed itself as a facilitator for arranging, overseeing, and ordering the necessary parts during the restoration of classic vehicles, as well as maintaining communications with the customer.

Calderaio agreed to provide restoration work on a 1968 Pontiac Firebird, a 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge and a 1970 Pontiac GTO HDT, according to a probable cause affidavit. Kohn paid the full project costs, totaling more than $178,000, by wiring the money to Calderaio’s bank account during 2015.  

Calderaio returned the completed Firebird to Kohn in July 2015. Kohn considered the work substandard, prompting him to make continuous requests for updates and photographs of the ongoing work on his GTOs.

After Calderaio failed to finish the GTOs by the end of 2015, Kohn arrived unannounced in Doylestown in early 2016. He found that work had not begun on one GTO, and that the other GTO consisted only of a frame, quarter panels, floorboards and firewall.

After Calderaio tried to increase the price of completing both vehicles by $50,000, Kohn refused, and contacted police. A subsequent search of Calderaio’s bank records showed that payments received from Kohn were either withdrawn or transferred to other accounts and used for retail purchases unrelated to Kohn’s auto projects.

As of the end of February 2016, Calderaio’s bank accounts collectively totaled less than $530, the probable cause affidavit said. When confronted in a police interview, Calderaio said he planned to take money from future projects to pay for completing Kohn’s vehicles. He also explained that his pending divorce had cost him about $120,000 and that he had “many bills.”

After lengthy negotiations, Calderaio agreed to enter no-contest pleas to two counts of theft by deception and one count each of theft by failure to make proper disposition of funds received, deceptive business practices and receiving stolen property.

Deputy District Attorney Alan J. Garabedian and defense attorney Louis Busico told Bateman that the plea agreement – and the offer to withdraw charges later on – would be the most effective way of getting Kohn’s money back to him. They agreed that a sentencing date would be set for about 120 days in the future, at which time Calderaio would pay half of the restitution owed.

The case was investigated by Bucks County Detective Eric Landamia.

Approved for release by Marc Furber, Deputy District Attorney.

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