Home improvement case results in restitution plan |

BRATTLEBORO — A Springfield man who failed to refund a couple after a home improvement project fell through plans to pay them back. Late last month, Benjamin E. Stocker, 31, of Hook and Horn Landscaping and Excavating pleaded not guilty to failing to refund $5,692 for home improvement work that […]

BRATTLEBORO — A Springfield man who failed to refund a couple after a home improvement project fell through plans to pay them back.

Late last month, Benjamin E. Stocker, 31, of Hook and Horn Landscaping and Excavating pleaded not guilty to failing to refund $5,692 for home improvement work that was not done. During a hearing Tuesday in Windham Superior Court, Criminal Division, he said he never heard back from an attorney but was prepared to represent himself and take a deal offered by the state if it still stands.

Stocker pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor rather than for the felony he was initially charged for by the state. He also agreed to work with a reparative justice board in Brattleboro and if he doesn’t complete its requirements, he will return to court for sentencing.

Judge Michael Kainen said the restitution judgement order covers the $5,962 owed to the couple.

“To make it affordable, I was shooting for $300 a month,” Stocker said.

Deputy State’s Attorney Steven Brown accepted the plan. Kainen noted misdemeanors cover cases where the defendant is accused of stealing properties or service worth a maximum of $900.

“The state believes this resolution is in the interest of justice given Mr. Stocker’s willingness to take responsibility and agree to a restitution judgement order, which obviously has great value to the victim of this crime,” Brown said.

Last year, Stocker had taken the money as a down payment for work on a property that a Charlestown, N.H., couple were in the process of buying, according to an affidavit filed in court. When the purchase fell through, the couple asked Stocker to return their down payment.

Stocker said he sent them a check, which the couple never received, so he agreed to meet them at Vermont Country Deli in Brattleboro on July 28 with another check. However, when he handed off the check, states the affidavit, Stocker asked the couple not to cash it immediately because he had been “a victim of fraud.”

Stocker offered to pay the couple cash instead, but when the couple contacted the bank to ask if the funds were available, the bank said no.

Stocker told Brattleboro Police Sgt. Jason Hamilton that he had given the couple a check that was “no good,” but added he wanted to pay them back and promised to have a plan in place by Jan. 14. Hamilton said he contacted the couple on Jan. 15 and they told him Stocker had not been in contact with them, and over the next several days, Stocker still had not reached out to the couple.

For the felony, Stocker faced to up to three years in jail and a fine as much as $5,000.

https://www.reformer.com/home-improvement-case-results-in-restitution-plan/article_c61455b4-bff4-11ec-a113-172e4b80f941.html

Dong Anker

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