RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)- After pleading guilty to swindling homeowners in Durham, Orange and Chatham counties out of more than $3 million, 41-year-old Jorge Alberto Garcia has now been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Garcia pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and two counts of failure to file income tax returns. He was also ordered to pay $4,043,397.52 in restitution, the Department of Justice said.
Court documents said between Sept. 2015 and April 2020, Garcia approached elderly, retired people and offered to make home repairs.
Garcia operated under the business names names “J&J Home Improvement” and “JH Home Improvements, Inc.”
Court documents said Garcia never had a state general contractor’s license.
Documents said his victims paid him with personal checks, credit cards, or withdrawals from investment accounts. On checks, Garcia often asked them to leave the “to” lines empty. Prosecutors said Garcia would then fill in those lines with his wife’s name.
They said she would later deposit those funds into her own account or her business account, La Cacerola. He was also accused of cashing the checks rather than depositing them at all.
Prosecutors said Garcia would form relationships with his victims calling them Momma or Poppa.
They said he would encourage them have their neighbors seek out his services.
One of those neighbors once wrote Garcia a check for a loan separate from the home repair work. Garcia later went back to ask for another check and the victim, not remembering they had already written him a check, wrote another check.
Court documents said Garcia did not complete any of the work he was contracted to do. He never paid back the loans either.
When confronted by the individuals, their family or even police, Garcia would promise to send workers to finish the job, return a small portion of the money, or write a check with insufficient funds.
In addition prosecutors said Garcia failed to file taxes on several occasions even with an income of more than $3 million.