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Scam on Woman, 87, Ends in Prison

Monday, June 3, 2013

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A New Jersey contractor has been sentenced to six years in prison after pocketing more than $83,000 for performing minor repairs at the home of an 87-year-old blind woman.

Robert A. Hibbert, 51, the former owner of Four Leaf Clover Home Repairs in Longport, NJ, must serve at least half of the sentence in New Jersey State Prison before becoming eligible for parole, authorities said.

Hibbert was indicted in April 2011 on two counts of third-degree theft by deception. His trial was underway in August 2012 when he agreed to plead guilty to one of the two counts, Acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain announced.

$3,200 in Repairs

The case arose in 2008, when the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office was contacted by a relative of Mildred Swartz, 87, of Ventnor. The relative alleged that Hibbert had wrongfully charged Swartz, who is visually impaired, thousands of dollars for home repairs.

Robert Hibbert
N.J. Department of Corrections

Contractor Robert Hibbert collected more than $83,000 for about $3,200 in home repairs, authorities said.

Swartz was fixing up the home to leave it to her children, authorities said.

Investigation by the prosecutor's Financial Crimes Unit eventually uncovered evidence and testimony showing that from July through October of 2007, Swartz paid Hibbert more than $83,000 for repairs that had an expert-estimated value of $3,200.

“This case was especially troubling because the victim was an independent elderly woman who was the sole care giver for her ill husband," said assistant prosecutor John Flammer.
 
The fraud wiped out much of Swartz's life savings, he added.
 
Hammer & nail

The victim, 87, who cared for her ailing husband, was fixing up the home to leave it to her children, said prosecutors. They were tipped to the case by the victim's relative.

While a crime of the third degree normally carries a prison term of three to five years, a condition of Hibbert's plea agreement was that he would be sentenced as a second-degree offender, resulting in the extended six-year sentence, authorities said.

Revocation, Restitution

Hibbert’s Home Repair Contractor Registration was also revoked by the State of New
Jersey on May 5, 2010. In addition, an earlier civil judgment against Hibbert requires him to pay restitution to the victim.

“Hopefully this extended-term sentence will serve as a deterrent to those who seek to
exploit the trust of the elderly,” said Flammer. “All the victim and her family sought
from the start was to ensure that this kind of crime does not happen to anyone else."

   

Tagged categories: Enforcement; Laws and litigation; Rehabilitation/Repair; Remodeling; Residential Construction; Residential contractors

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