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  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

    Thomas Stanley




  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

    Thomas Stanley, left, and his father, Cornelius appeared in Hillsborough County Superior Court Friday, February 19, 2010, for their arraignments and bail hearings on charges stemming from alleged paving scams.
  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

    Nineteen-year-old Joseph Stanley appears in Hillsborough County Superior Court Friday, February 5, 2010, for a bail hearing.
  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

    Nineteen-year-old Joseph Stanley appears in Hillsborough County Superior Court Friday, February 5, 2010, for a bail hearing.
Sunday, September 5, 2010

Justice system aims to deter

NASHUA – The New Hampshire prosecution of three members of the Stanley family for a string of shady business practices drew to a close last week, but the penalties underscore one of the inherent limits of the justice system: Criminal sentences can only do so much to prevent future crimes, particularly in other areas.

Joseph C. Stanley, his brother, Thomas Stanley and their father, Cornelius V. Stanley, were sentenced for a series of paving scams that duped or intimidated their victims out of thousands of dollars.

Whether those sentences succeed in deterring the men from simply going elsewhere to run the same ruse remains to be seen.

Joseph Stanley, 20, of Nashua, got the stiffest penalty. He was sentenced to five to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $30,000 in restitution to his elderly victims by a Hillsborough County Superior Court judge.

He was accused of trolling area neighborhoods looking for elderly home owners. He would offer to pave a small portion of their driveways but then pave larger portions, often poorly, and intimidate owners into paying exorbitant fees.

Earlier this month, Joseph Stanley’s brother and father cut deals with prosecutors that kept them out of jail following their own parking lot paving scam.

Cornelius Stanley , the father, received a suspended one-year prison sentence and must pay a $2,000 fine, as well as $200 restitution to the auto shop owner he swindled.

He pleaded guilty to the felony charge of accomplice to theft by deception, and the state waived another felony charge.

Thomas Stanley got a suspended one-year prison sentence and must also pay $250 restitution and pay a court fine of $1,000.

Both are barred from paving in New Hampshire for the next five years.

The Stanleys are part of a large, extended family, many of whom have made their living in asphalt for generations. Some of Cornelius Stanley’s relatives run reputable paving companies, while others have been the subject of complaints to the state’s Consumer Protection Bureau.

“We always hope the sentence serves a deterrent effect,” said Senior Assistant Attorney General James Boffetti . “The hope is that the experience of being in prison and being on parole is going to be enough to convince him to live as a law abiding citizen.”

But sentences can’t last forever, said Boffetti, head of the Consumer Protection Bureau. They are meant to punish for a specific offense and, hopefully, discourage future offenses.

If the Stanleys wished it, traveling just a few miles south would put them beyond the reach of New Hampshire prosecutors who investigated the latest charges, even though their New Hampshire convictions would be available to law enforcement in other states.

“If somebody has a criminal record, it shows up on a federal database,” Boffetti said. “There is information that’s shared, and it’s often times done that way.”

The Stanleys, though, have a reputation for hiding their identities and names of their companies.

Joseph Stanley used the name “Tony Bennett,” among others in his scams and at various times presented himself as an agent of “Driveways Co.” and “Dunn Right Paving.”

The attorney who prosecuted the Stanleys, Assistant Attorney General Tracy Culberson, was not available for comment last week.

Members of the family have faced sanctions in multiple states. Cornelius Stanley was arrested in Florida in 2001 for alleged fraud and unlicensed contracting.

Joseph and Thomas Stanley are facing charges in several Connecticut towns, accused of similar paving scams. They were arrested there in July 2009, just nine days after Joseph Stanley was released on bail in New Hampshire, according to court records.

Connecticut police said the Stanley pavers were working without the requisite contractors license and without following state consumer-protection regulations.

Police in Manchester, Conn., also have issued warrants for Joseph Stanley and two laborers, stemming from four alleged paving scams in that community. Manchester (Conn.) police were investigating Thomas Stanley as well, a detective there said.

Monroe (Conn.) Police Lt. Brian McCauley admitted that it can be frustrating knowing convicted criminals can easily move beyond a particular jurisdiction’s reach and run the same scams over and over.

When crimes cross state lines, but are “small potatoes” to federal agencies, local police can be left without options, he said.

“It’s very frustrating,” said McCauley, whose elderly parents were the victims of a similar scheme a few years ago. “In my opinion, if they were real pavers, they could make their money doing a real job.”

Joseph Stanley’s victims, at least a couple of them, said they too hoped the punishment would change his behavior. Others did not return phone calls or declined to comment.

“I felt sorry for him, but I don’t want anyone to steal from me,” Spiro Pitarys said. “He could have been a successful person if he did the right things, but he didn’t.”

“If something good comes of it, it’ll help,” said one woman who asked not to be identified. “It certainly was an awful bad deal for me.”

The opportunity for some good was built in to Joseph Stanley’s sentence. He pleaded guilty to 11 counts of theft and theft by deception and a misdemeanor charge of violating the state’s consumer protection law, as well as an unrelated felony charge of driving while being an habitual offender. Prosecutors dropped 11 misdemeanor charges. Stanley also received a 71⁄2 -15 year prison sentence and $24,000 fine, all of which is suspended for 10 years, according to court documents.

He was also ordered to participate in counseling programs recommended by his probation/parole officer and to have no contact with his victims and to remain 100 yards away from their homes.

One year of his minimum prison term can be suspended if he shows meaningful participation in an educational program while in prison, according to court documents.

Stanley is barely literate, according to his attorney, Thomas Gleason, of Haverhill, Mass., who told this fact to the court during Stanley’s sentencing on Monday.

Pitarys said the sentence was satisfactory, though he hopes he will be paid back someday.

“I’m satisfied with what he got. All I wanted was my money that he stole from me,” Pitarys said.

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashuatelegraph.com.