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Post date: March 21 2002

Home Contractor Gets State Prison For Defrauding Elderly Customers

State Attorney General Spitzer today announced that a former Capital District based home contractor who defrauded elderly customers of more than $1 million was sentenced in State Supreme Court, Albany County to two and one-third to seven years in state prison.

The defendant, Richard Kelly, 45, of Niskayuna entered plea before acting Supreme Court Judge Dan Lamont in July 2001, in connection with the operation of Capital District Building and Remodeling, and Tri-City Home Restorations. At that time, he and a second defendant, John Sitterly, 47, also of Niskayuna pleaded guilty to separate counts of Grand Larceny in the second degree, a class "C" felony, and scheme to defraud in the first degree, a class "E" felony. The plea followed a joint-investigation by the New York State Police, Special Investigation Unit; Niskayuna Police Department, and the Attorney General's Office.

Sitterly failed to appear at today's sentencing, and a bench warrant has been issued for his arrest. Judge Lamont ordered Kelly to make full restitution to each of the eleven victims.

"The prosecution of crimes against the elderly is a major objective of my office. We are determined to aggressively pursue those who prey upon the elderly, and we will devote the time and resources necessary to bring such criminals to justice," said Spitzer.

Sitterly and Kelly began their home improvement business in the Albany area in 1994. The complaint filed against the defendants indicated that elderly, and isolated Capital District residents were targeted, as potential home improvement customers. They established emotional ties with their victims, portraying themselves as caring friends of their victims. In fact, the victims were manipulated by a pattern of lies, false promises, and misrepresentations. To give their transactions the appearance of legitimacy, Sitterly and Kelly issued worthless promissory notes, which they never intended to pay, and used the money for their own personal expenses.

The crimes resulted in the loss of life-savings and retirement accounts for the victims totaling $1.1 million. One victim lost $528,000 including her home and virtually all of her assets. Other victims took loans against their homes and her credit cards to raise money to give to the defendants.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Stephen Maher of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau.