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  • Asphalt surface with cracks
  • George Snow
  • Kevin Snow
Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Scams outside NH lead back to Granite State

A Connecticut paver with ties to New Hampshire faces felony fraud charges in six California counties and a robbery case in Pennsylvania.

George J. Stanley, 30, of 209 Starkweather Road, Moosup, Conn., has pleaded guilty to felony paving scam charges in three of the six counties and faces prison time unless he can pay restitution before sentencing.

Stanley and his cousins, George Snow, 19, and Kevin Snow, 22, of Salisbury, Mass., are also accused of drugging an elderly man in Pennsylvania to rob him of $22,000, authorities said.

Stanley hails from a small town in eastern Connecticut and has ties to Stanley families in New Hampshire, including the Stanley family in Greater Nashua.

The California Contractors State License Board – a regulatory and enforcement agency with no equivalent in New Hampshire – estimates that Stanley and his transient paving crews have scammed scores of Californians, many of them elderly, out of at least $500,000 with shoddy asphalt work.

“Stanley and his extended family’s scheme involved approaching home or business owners, stating his crew had leftover asphalt from another paving job, and that they could resurface the property owner’s driveway or fill potholes for a ‘good deal,’ ” CSLB spokeswoman Venus Stromberg wrote. “The so-called ‘deal’ generally ended up costing much more than the quoted price, and the work often crumbled within days or weeks. Property owners lost from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars.”

Stanley and his cousins and employees worked across California, Idaho and Washington states, doing business as “Community Paving,” “West Coast Paving” and sometimes other names, authorities said.

Coincidentally, “West Coast Paving” has also been used as a business name by Esau “Ace” Stanley of Derry, according to public records, though never as an official organized company in New Hampshire. There are at least five West Coast Paving companies in the United States, in California, Nevada and Washington, according to the Better Business Bureau.

***

California authorities first encountered Stanley in 1998 but let him off with a warning, records indicate. More recently, Stanley was arrested in the spring of 2008 on warrants stemming from alleged paving scams in Yuba and Tulare counties in California. While free on bail, he went to work in Idaho and Washington state, California officials said.

Boise, Idaho, police stopped one of Stanley’s dump truck drivers for hauling paving equipment on a trailer without working turn signals on June 9, 2008, police said. David Andreasson, then 28, was charged with driving under the influence and without a commercial license. Stanley showed up, admitted to owning the truck, and was cited for 10 different vehicular violations relating to the dump truck.

The dump truck had an expired New Hampshire registration, police said. However, Boise police did not include the registration information or number in their reports on the incident, the department stated in responding to a public information request.

Boise police suspected the two men of being involved in a paving scam in the area at the time but did not bring any charges against them for it, police said.

While The Telegraph was unable to find any evidence that George J. Stanley has any relatives in New Hampshire, an investigator with the California Contractors State License Board wrote in response to The Telegraph that phone conversations suggest a link.

Recordings of phone calls that Stanley made while jailed in Butte County, California, included discussions of a Joshua J. Stanley of 4 Meeks Road, Kingston, N.H., and Joseph Stanley of Northwood, N.H., the investigator told The Telegraph.

Referring to Joshua J. Stanley, the investigator said, “I am pretty sure that this guy is closely related to our George J. Stanley, as I heard Stanley talking about him on the phone recordings we obtained from Butte County jail.”

Joshua J. Stanley of Kingston has been implicated in paving scams in Arizona, authorities there said, while Joseph Stanley of Northwood has complaints on file with the New Hampshire attorney general’s consumer protection bureau and has been sanctioned by the state of Vermont for paving scams.

***

George J. Stanley has been brazenly persistent in paving without a license in California, authorities in that state said. The California Contractors Board has issued a whole series of press releases focused on him and his crew, usually accompanied by mug shots and advising consumers how to avoid such scams. One such notice describes the gist of the scam:

“The scammers usually approach property owners saying they have leftover materials and offer to fix potholes or pave driveways at bargain rates. Then, they raise the price after the work has been completed with no written contract, use defective materials, and/or provide poor quality work. They often ask for payment up front or will cash checks and leave the area before victims know they’ve been ripped off.”

Two investigators with the Tulare County (Calif.) district attorney’s office, Mark Lopez and Kevin Bohl, interviewed Stanley in 2008, immediately after arresting him on warrants for theft, fraud and related charges.

“Stanley readily admitted that he was the sole owner of the business, Community Paving, the owner of all the equipment and very much aware that a CSLB license was required for this construction work,” Lopez wrote in an affidavit filed in court.

“Stanley admitted that he could not pass the California exam and that he could not provide California workers compensation insurance for his employees. Stanley said that he would continue to work in this fashion in spite of having been admonished for the same criminal offenses by the CSLB in 1998.”

Stanley refused to disclose how many jobs he’d done or where, telling investigators he feared the magnitude of potential claims against him, Lopez wrote. He also declined to provide any information on any potentially satisfied customers, Lopez noted.

Citing Stanley’s history and out-of-state vehicle registrations, Lopez wrote, “it appears that the defendant has not planned to remain in this state longer than necessary to conduct his illegal activities, to defraud rural citizens and to avoid apprehension by local law enforcement.”

***

Despite the charges already pending against him there, Stanley returned to California in the spring of 2009 and was arrested again in Tulare County on June 24, 2009, along with two cousins, George and Kevin Snow of Salisbury, Mass. This time, California authorities seized roughly $500,000 worth of paving equipment, including heavy trucks and trailers, registered to Rich T. Cooper and Stanley’s wife, Daisy Stanley, both of 209 Starkweather Road, Moosup, Conn.

Stanley’s lawyer has since argued, without success, for the equipment to be returned, saying Stanley needs it to work so that he can pay restitution.

Stanley and the Snows were all released on bail, while their charges were pending.

They turned up next on July 8 in East Brandywine, Pa., where they are accused of drugging a 75-year-old man and stealing $22,000, according to the Chester County Daily Local News. East Brandywine Police Sgt. Gene Babetski told the paper that the men claimed to be paving contractors, working as “Ready Rock Paving” and he agreed to let them pave his driveway at $1 a square foot.

After they finished, the men remanded $9,800 for the job and drove the man to his bank. On the way, police said, they offered the man a cigarette, which he soon tossed because it tasted odd. When the man got to the bank, he told police he felt drunk and the pavers helped him to withdraw $22,000. The pavers later fled with all the man’s money, he told police, and he identified the Snows and Stanley from their photos, the paper reported.

Stanley and the Snow brothers returned to California for a court date later that month, California officials said. They were again released on bail, and Stanley missed two subsequent hearings in Yuba and Butte counties.

Stanley returned for a court date in Yuba County in August 2009 and was arrested on warrants from the Pennsylvania robbery, and for failing to appear in other California courts. On Sept. 30, 2009, Stanley pleaded “no contest” to a felony grand theft charge in Tulare County, Calif., and was released on $120,000 bail. On Oct. 8, he surrendered himself to authorities in Pennsylvania, to face felonies including theft, criminal conspiracy, fraudulent business practices and drug charges. The Snows also surrendered themselves to Pennsylvania authorities and were released after posting $30,000 cash bail.

Stanley’s prior record extends to other states, as well. He was cited for speeding in Florida in 1997, and fined for contracting without a license and failing to appear in Tucson (Ariz.) Municipal Court in 2000. On Jan. 5, 2004, Stanley was arrested in Pinellas County, Fla., for paving without a written contract. He pleaded guilty two years later and was fined $500, state records show. In 2007, he agreed to a plea deal for driving without proof of insurance in Phoenix (Ariz.) Municipal Court and paid a fine.

Stanley’s sentencing in Tulare County, Calif., is scheduled for April 1, California authorities stated in a press release. His plea bargain calls for $23,500 in restitution and at least 16 months in prison.

Stanley pleaded guilty to paving scam charges in Yuba County on Jan. 29, and Joaquin County on Jan. 28, Venus Stromberg, a spokeswoman with the CSLB, wrote. His sentencing in Yuba is scheduled for July 16.

In each of the three convictions to date, judges ordered Stanley to pay restitution in full by the time of his sentencing or face several years in prison. If Stanley can pay, he would instead receive short stints in jail, Stromberg wrote.

His restitution in Yuba County has yet to be determined but he owes $102,000 in Joaquin County. Criminal charges remain pending against Stanley in Butte, Imperial and Ventura counties, Stromberg wrote.

“Thanks to the tireless work of CSLB investigators and our partners throughout the state, this notorious criminal will be forced to repay the consumers he has scammed during the past two years with his over-priced, shoddy paving work,” CSLB Registrar Steve Sands stated in a press release. “This unlicensed operator’s violation of a judge’s order to stop doing work that requires a California contractor license shows blatant disregard for our state laws. We hope this sends a clear message to criminals who think they can come to California and rip off unsuspecting consumers. ... You will be caught and you will pay.”

Perhaps Stanley will pay, but meanwhile, he remains free on bail.

On Nov. 6, 2009, the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs in Honolulu issued a warning concerning “a group of related individuals that may be offering to repave driveways and perform other home renovation work” on the island of Oahu.

An agency enforcement official, Jo Ann Uchida, wrote, “We have received credible evidence that George Stanley and related individuals have relocated here from the mainland and are engaged in unlicensed contracting activity and other conduct that is similar to conduct that took place in other states.”

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