Chapel Hill man faces 10 years in prison for targeting senior citizens seeking home repairs ::

Jene J. Long

A Chapel Hill man was sentenced in federal court for fraud offenses Monday after officials said he “manipulated” and “deceived” senior citizens seeking home repairs.

According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Jorge Alberto Garcia, 41, who is also known as “Alberto Garcia” and “Roberto Garcia,” pled guilty in November to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in a home repair scheme and two counts of failure to file income tax returns.

Court documents state Garcia took advantage of seniors dating back to September 2015, when he would approach seniors at their homes in Durham, Orange and Chatham counties, offering home improvement services under the names J&J Home Improvement and JH Home Improvements, Inc.

Many of the seniors in the households he targeted had physical or mental limits, the release states. In one instance, Garcia asked a homeowner to write him a second check, and the homeowner did, not remembering that he had already paid Garcia.

Documents state Garcia would ask his victims to pay him before the work was completed. He would ask them to leave the “to” line of the check blank so his wife could later deposit them in her personal accounts, which were listed in her name and in the name of her business, La Cacerola.

Garcia would form close relationships with his victims, even calling them “Momma” and “Poppa,” filed documents state, and he would encourage them to tell their neighbors about his fake business.

Between May 2014 and November 2019, Garcia made more than $3 million from multiple victims.

Garcia and his wife have filed no federal income taxes since 2007, either personally or for their respective businesses, the release states. The couple had a joint income exceeding $3 million in each tax year from 2014 to 2018.

On Monday, Garcia was sentenced to over 10 years in prison, which will be followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay over $4 million in restitution.

“The lengthy sentence in this case reflects the depravity of the scheme,” said U.S. Attorney Sandra J. Hairston, who represents North Carolina’s middle district. “This prosecution sends a message to would-be fraudsters.”

“The victims in this case trusted Jorge Garcia, but unfortunately they were manipulated and deceived,” said Robert R. Wells of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in North Carolina. “Garcia ripped off hundreds of elderly victims to fill his own pockets. Now he will pay for his crimes serving a federal prison sentence where he can’t swindle anyone else.”

The case was investigated by the FBI in coordination with the Durham Police Department, the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, the Chapel Hill Police Department, the Carrboro Police Department, the Cary Police Department and the IRS.

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