Crime - Sacto 911

Three accused of defrauding seniors through home-improvement scheme

Three people have been arrested on charges related to defrauding senior citizens following an investigation by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office.

Patrick Murphy, 60, Michael McMillen, 59, and Antoinette Pierce, 63, are accused of engaging in a systematic conspiracy scheme targeting seniors, resulting in an aggregate loss of more than $1 million, according to a District Attorney’s Office news release. The three were booked Thursday morning into Sacramento County jail.

The District Attorney’s Office launched an investigation after receiving a case from the Contractors State License Board, in which a victim, a senior citizen, was defrauded of $80,000. All 11 victims had construction work done at their homes by Murphy and McMillen, who are not licensed contractors, authorities said.

The defendants reportedly gained the victims’ trust, and from 2009 through 2014, took large amounts of money from them, according to the DA’s Office. The amounts allegedly far exceeded the repairs and improvements needed or made to the victims’ homes.

In many instances, Murphy asked to be paid in cash and showed some of the victims how to obtain cash advances on their credit cards. The defendants often drove the victims to the bank to get cash, authorities said. In one instance, Murphy reportedly took a victim to her bank to “help” her apply for a home equity loan so she could give him more money. Murphy also allegedly directed several victims to write checks to Pierce, telling them that she was his wife, his employee or the co-owner of the business.

Nearly all of the checks written to Murphy and McMillen were cashed at check-cashing stores, while checks written to Pierce were deposited in her personal bank account, authorities said.

The investigation also revealed that Murphy was convicted in 2001 of defrauding elderly victims in New York of a total of $1.1 million under similar circumstances, the District Attorney’s Office reported.

The defendants are to be arraigned Monday.

People who believe they have been victims or know someone who has been a victim of the defendants is asked to call the District Attorney’s Consumer and Environmental Protection Division at (916) 874-6174.

Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.