The owner of a Chelmsford oil service company pleaded guilty for taking deposits from clients for work and repairs which were never performed, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone announced this week.
According to Leone's office, Michael Santaniello, 60, of Chelmsford, pleaded guilty in Lowell District Court to charges of larceny over $250 from a person over 60 years of age (4 counts), larceny over $250 (6 counts), larceny by check over $250, larceny over $250 by false pretenses, and failure to return leased personalty.
The victims in this case are residents of Burlington, Chelmsford, Billerica, Lexington, Wilmington, Somerville, Bedford and Westford.
Lowell District Court Judge Lynn Rooney sentenced the defendant to 2 ½ years in the House of Correction with 18 months to serve and the balance suspended for 2 years, a release from the district attorney stated.
Following that sentence, the defendant was ordered to serve another 2 ½ year House of Correction sentence to be suspended for 5 years. During that period when the sentence is suspended, the defendant will be on probation conditions that he not engage in any employment or volunteer work with the elderly or disabled, not operate or manage his own business, complete a money management course, attend Gambler’s Anonymous and pay restitution.
“This defendant targeted seniors, many of whom had been his customers for years, and took advantage of them by taking deposits for work he never intended to perform and materials he never provided,” Leone said. “This case demonstrates how addiction, when left untreated, can lead a person to such despair and selfishness that they would manipulate and deceive vulnerable, trusting members of our community who deserve better. I commend the good work of all the agencies involved whose collaborative efforts ensured that this defendant would be held accountable.”
According to authorities, the defendant, owner of Mike’s Oil Heat Service in Chelmsford, stole from more than a dozen victims, many of whom are elderly, collecting deposits for service or repairs to oil tanks and burners. The work was never completed and new equipment was never delivered. In total, the defendant stole more than $21,000 from his customers. In addition, the defendant agreed to sell a trailer to a victim without furnishing the property.
In 2009, the defendant won a $1 million prize in the Massachusetts State Lottery, according to officials. Between August 2009 and June 2011, the defendant won an additional $23,000 from the Mass State Lottery.
The case was investigated by the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, and the Chelmsford, Billerica, Lexington, Burlington, Wilmington, Somerville, Bedford and Westford police departments.
The Assistant District Attorney assigned to prosecute this case is Regina Krumholz.