Taunton Couple Plead Guilty to Stealing Tens of Thousands of Dollars From Multiple Homeowners
FALL RIVER — An unlicensed home improvement contractor and his wife have pleaded guilty in connection with stealing tens of thousands of dollars from multiple homeowners, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office announced today.
Arthur J. Amaral, Jr., age 53, of Taunton, pleaded guilty on Tuesday in Bristol Superior Court to charges of Larceny by False Pretenses Over $250 (10 counts), Operating as an Unlicensed Home Improvement Contractor (2 counts), Failure to Pay for Materials after Receiving Sufficient Funds for Them (4 counts), and Material Misrepresentation to Procure a Contract (1 count).
Amaral’s wife and business partner, Laurajo Amaral, 46, also of Taunton, pleaded guilty to Larceny by False Pretenses Over $250 (1 count). After the pleas were entered, Superior Court Judge D. Lloyd Macdonald scheduled a sentencing hearing for the defendants for September 12 at 2:30 p.m. in Bristol Superior Court in Fall River.
The charges stemmed from complaints from four homeowners, two of whom hired the Amarals to help rebuild their fire damaged homes. According to authorities, in February 2008, a pair of homeowners enlisted Arthur and Laurajo Amaral to help rebuild their homes. The Amarals requested payments from the homeowners for interior items such as appliances, flooring, and cabinets. Although those checks were cashed, the money was never used toward those items despite the Amarals insisting the orders had been placed.
Additionally, in the spring of 2008, Arthur Amaral misrepresented himself as a licensed and insured home improvement contractor to obtain a contract with a homeowner who otherwise would not have hired Arthur Amaral if he knew Amaral was not licensed. Arthur Amaral also requested and received a payment for cabinets from this homeowner, but never ordered or delivered the cabinets. In two other cases involving property owners in their seventies, Arthur Amaral signed up for home improvement jobs, collected money for the jobs, and then never had further contact with the property owners.
Authorities allege that the couple stole more than $180,000 as a result of this scheme. According to investigators, the defendants have a pattern stretching back almost 20 years of starting a real estate and construction company, bankrupting the company or putting it out of business, and then starting a new company for the same purpose, but never registering the company or themselves as home improvement contractors.
A Bristol County Grand Jury returned indictments against the Amarals on June 24, 2011. They were arraigned on July 12, 2011 in Bristol Superior Court and pleaded guilty on Tuesday and are due back in court on September 12 for sentencing.
For information and tips on choosing home improvement contractors, please visit the Attorney General’s website.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Andrew Rainer, Chief of the Environmental Crimes Strike Force and Assistant Attorney General Jeanne Veenstra, from the AG’s Southeastern Massachusetts Office, with assistance from Investigators Bryan Freitas and Jack D’Isidoro, and Victim Witness Advocates Shannon Legrice and Amber Foley.