Jessica Paradiso, John Risto, Henry Hicks and Susan and Brian Barr pled guilty in February, 2016, to charges related to a coordinated crime scheme. The group targeted elderly victims, approaching them under false pretenses at the homes of victims to perform the work driveway sealing, foundation work, and roof repair. The victims were then robbed of thousands of dollars in cash or robbed of household items.
In most cases, prosecutors said the criminals overcharged their victims for projects and would sometimes create more problems once inside the victim’s home. The work either was so incomplete that the victims or their families had to seek out professionals to fix it. Many times, the work never needed to be done at all.
Donald Koblintz is one of the eleven victims named in the criminal indictment against the defendants.
“He says there’s a leak in the toilet, and he can fix it for me easily for another thousand dollars,” Koblintz said.
Targeting victims because of their age is considered a hate crime under New York State law, elevating the charges to felonies.
Henry Hicks’ attorney asked for a lighter sentence because of Hicks’ cooperation with authorities. However, he received 8 to 16 years, guilty also of a poor attitude.
John Risto is terminally ill, and despite begging the judge not to let him die in prison, is going away for 1-3 years
Susan Barr gets 2 to 4 years following her apology, “I’m very sorry about what happened to the people in this case. I wouldn’t want it to happen to me.”
Susan’s son Brian, gets 7 1/2 to 15 years.
Judge McDonough closed the hearing in a stern conclusion, speaking to Mr. Barr, “You, sir, are a scoundrel. You’re a villain, and you’re a particular villain because you picked the most vulnerable individuals to victimize, the elderly.”
All five received prison time and an order to pay back restitution (over $40,000) to the families once they are released.
Assistant District Attorney Jessica Blain-Lewis of the Financial Crimes Bureau prosecuted this case.