A North Wales home improvement contractor who used his father’s business credentials to steal tens of thousands of dollars in rental equipment from a Southampton business, wrote bad checks for vehicle repairs in Doylestown, and rendered a Buckingham man’s house unlivable, was sentenced Tuesday to state prison by a Bucks County judge.
Todd Michael Craig, 31, who did business as T.M.C. Mechanical, was ordered by President Judge Jeffrey L. Finley to serve two to seven years in state prison, with a concurrent seven years of probation.
Finley also ordered Craig to pay more than $90,000 in restitution to his victims, imposing a payment plan of $500 per month as a condition of probation.
Craig pleaded guilty on Nov. 9 to multiple theft-related felonies. Those convictions added to a history of at least eight prior convictions, most of them for theft-related crimes.
“Your background shows that you knew exactly what you were doing,” Finley told him.
Assistant District Attorney Jovin Jose, who prosecuted Craig, agreed.
“I think the sentence imposed by the judge was certainly appropriate given the extent of the theft and prior criminal record,” he observed.
Craig came under police scrutiny in late January 2016, when he failed to return three expensive pieces of equipment that he had rented weeks earlier from Sunbelt Rentals in Southampton Township.
On Dec. 23, 2015, Craig had leased a tandem axle trailer and a Bobcat mini-excavator from Sunbelt. Five days later, he rented a Bobcat Skid-Steer loader, say authorities. The total value of the equipment was $90,000.
Craig had rented the machinery under the supposed credentials of his father’s construction business. His father told police that Craig had not worked for him in many years, and that he never authorized his son to rent anything using his company’s account.
The Buckingham Township Police Department located the Bobcat machinery, concealed under tarps, at 4565 Route 202 in Buckingham Township, a property where Craig had been working for several weeks. Vehicle identification numbers, serial numbers and stickers identifying the equipment as Sunbelt property had been removed or painted over, police said.
But one key incriminating item overlooked by Craig was the LoJak stolen vehicle recovery device wisely installed by Sunbelt.
Craig, meanwhile, was well into “fleecing” the owner of the Buckingham home where police had found the rental equipment.
“After winning the trust of the homeowner with a competent furnace repair, Craig overcharged him thousands of dollars for additional work on his well and well pump – some of which was never done,” explained the Bucks D.A.
Craig grabbed silver and other personal items from the owner’s house, and stole credit cards that he used to run up thousands of dollars in charges. Worse yet, say authorities, he jack-hammered a trench through the concrete slab of the home as part of an unnecessary septic system repair, creating a huge mess and stench that forced the homeowner, Jonathan Becan, to seek shelter elsewhere.
A year later, Becan said in court, he still can’t return to his home, and has had to borrow funds from family and friends to stay afloat financially and repair the damage done by Craig.
“I went into financial ruin because of the crimes and actions committed by Todd Craig,” he told Finley. “It has been almost one year to the day that I have been unable to live in my home.”
The portion of Becan’s losses not covered by insurance exceeds $73,000. His insurer is owed almost $2,000 more by Craig. Sunbelt was out more than $14,000 from Craig’s unpaid rental fees and the costs of repairing the damage he caused to the company’s equipment.
Craig also pleaded guilty to writing two bad checks to Mike Wass Auto Center in Doylestown for almost $1,500 in repairs to his pickup truck and his girlfriend’s car.
Craig apologized to his victims, saying that he is a competent construction worker who got in over his head by trying to run his own business.
Craig said he hired unreliable workers who did inferior work when he wasn’t around. Instead of seeking help from his father when things got out of control, he stubbornly pressed on, he said, “resulting in this chaos that never should have went as far as it did.”
“It was lousy and disrespectful, the way I went about it,” he added. “Obviously I am not very good at multitasking…I am a horrible business owner, and will never own a business again.”
Jose disputed the notion that the defendant was a one-time bumbler whose main problem was incompetence.
“This was an ongoing series of thefts,” Jose told Finley.
(Information included from the Bucks County Office of the District Attorney is assumed accurate.)