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Snowplow operator gets six months in jail for defrauding customers

A snowplow operator accused of defrauding customers in the Buffalo area four years ago was sentenced Thursday to six months in the Erie County Correctional Facility for doing the same thing last year in the Rochester area.

Scott Romero, of Palmyra, admitted he violated a 2011 court order issued by then-State Supreme Court Justice Kevin M. Dillon.

The judge issued the order after state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman sued Romero for accepting advance payments from Buffalo-area customers for snow-removal services and then failing to provide the services.

The order required Romero to pay $50,000 in restitution and put up a $150,000 bond before being able to accept advance payments in the future.

In January, the attorney general filed criminal contempt charges against Romero for failing to put up the bond but accepting advance payments from at least 33 customers in the Rochester area last fall and then failing to provide the snow-removal services.

Romero admitted Thursday in a Buffalo courtroom that he defrauded six of the 33 customers.

State Supreme Court Justice Catherine R. Nugent-Panepinto sentenced him to 30 days in jail on each of the six violations of the court order, for a total jail term of 180 days.

Romero also signed a $60,000 confession of judgment.

State prosecutors said Romero attracted customers by offering to provide snowplowing services for $179 to $199 a season, much lower than the usual price.

Schneiderman said his office takes action against those who defraud New York consumers, “including seeking jail time for the worst offenders.”

“Middle-class families across Western New York depend on snow-removal services to get to work and to keep their families safe,” he said. “Contractors who rip off families who are paying hard-earned money for these services must be held accountable.”

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General James M. Morrissey in the Buffalo regional office and Assistant Attorney General Benjamin A. Bruce in the Rochester regional office.

email: jstaas@buffnews.com