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Friday, August 14, 2009

Suspect in paving scam will remain in jail

By ANDREW WOLFE Staff Writer

NASHUA – A judge denied a request to reduce Joseph C. Stanley's $75,000 cash-only bail Thursday, while he faces charges of coercing two elderly homeowners into over-paying for shoddy paving work.

Stanley, 19, had been free on bail while facing charges of theft and driving as a habitual offender, but was jailed after a hearing July 23 in Nashua District Court, where a judge ruled that his bail had been set too low, considering his prior record.

Speaking before Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge James Barry on Thursday, Stanley's lawyer, Charles Bookman, called the bail amount "outrageous," considering that Stanley had been free on bail and showed up for his hearing.

"Despite the fact that he walked in off the street, the state asked for his bail to be increased," Bookman said.

Barry heard arguments from both sides Thursday, but took the case "under advisement" rather than decide off the cuff. He later denied the request, according to court officials.

While Bookman acknowledged that Stanley's habitual offender charge carries a mandatory jail sentence, he argued that the theft charges were unfounded, and that Stanley's extensive family ties to the area make him an unlikely flight risk.

"His entire family is from the Derry, Hudson and Nashua area," Bookman said.

Stanley's father, Cornelius V. Stanley, of 32 Yarmouth Drive, owns a local paving company, and several other relatives also are involved in paving businesses in southern New Hampshire and beyond.

If released on bail, Bookman said, Stanley "is not going to be out paving any elderly people's driveways."

Police in Monroe, Conn., might beg to differ.

Stanley and his brother, Thomas A. Stanley, 20, were arrested there along with Wallace Wilson, 46, of Merrimack, on July 9, just days after Stanley was released on bail on the theft charges in Nashua. Police in Connecticut charge that the Stanley crew were working without the requisite license, and without following state consumer-protection regulations.

The prosecutor, Assistant County Attorney Kent Smith, made no mention of the Connecticut case, but argued that Stanley's $75,000 cash-only bail was appropriate given the charges and his prior record, which includes misdemeanor convictions for driving after suspension, disobeying police and simple assault, and a pending warrant for failing to appear on a simple assault charge in Salem.

In addition to the mandatory minimum one-year sentence for driving as a habitual offender, Stanley faces up to 10 to 30 years on each of the theft charges, under a state law that allows for extended sentences for crimes targeting the elderly, Smith said.

Smith said Stanley and his crew intimidated one homeowner, a 94-year-old woman on Wood Street, into paying $3,000 for paving she didn't want done in the first place, and coerced a 84-year-old man to pay $3,900 when he'd agreed only to a $100 patch job.

"Mr. Stanley is not only a risk to flee," Smith said, "He also is a danger to the community."

Stanley contends that he simply got paid for the work that he did, and that there were no threats involved, Bookman said.

"The inference was that Mr. Stanley somehow intimidated elderly people into giving him money for shoddy work," Bookman said. "There's this inference that this gentleman was taking advantage of elderly persons in a way that he has not."

"These are not thefts," Bookman said.

Andrew Wolfe can be reached at 594-6410 or awolfe@nashuatelegraph.com.