On Thursday, April 24, 2014, Larry McGill, Nicholas Mitchell and Helen Johnson pled guilty to Racketeering (O.C.G.A. § 16-14-4(c)) for their role in a home improvement scam targeting senior citizens. The three defendants were charged with conspiring to defraud 25 elderly victims of over $74,500 in Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett and Walton Counties.
Between July 28, 2011, and February 15, 2013, the defendants, operating in crews, sought out residences of older homeowners. Once a potential home was identified, a member of the crew would approach the homeowner and offer an exterior home cleaning service or a home improvement service such as roofing or driveway sealing. Typically the crew member would quote a price and tell the homeowner the charge was a flat rate. The homeowner would agree to the work and the price.
After work was done, the crew would tell homeowners that the quoted price was actually the amount per volume of the materials or product used and a larger quantity of materials or product had been used than expected. The homeowners were surprised to learn that the crew was charging them a much higher fee than what they had originally agreed to pay.
Many homeowners believed that they could not protest the higher amount, while some attempted to negotiate a lower payment. Feeling pressured, the homeowners would pay an amount higher than the original agreement via cash and/or writing a personal check to one of the defendants. Personal checks were then cashed by one of the defendants.
Chief Judge Adele P. Grubbs sentenced the defendants. Larry McGill received two years imprisonment, followed by 13 years probation, and was ordered to pay $18,944 in restitution. Nicholas Mitchell received two years imprisonment, followed by 13 years probation, and was ordered to pay $5,657 in restitution. Helen Johnson received one year imprisonment, followed by five years probation, and was ordered to pay $900 in restitution.
The two remaining defendants, Rocky Mitchell and Gidget Williams, are wanted and at large.
Assistant Attorney General Blair McGowan prosecuted the case on behalf of the State of Georgia. The case was investigated by Danny Vogt with the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection and David Farabaugh with the Roswell Police Department.