LOCKPORT - Joseph J. Lloyd, a Southtowns contractor with a long history of defrauding clients, will serve 3 1/3 to 10 years in state prison for failing to repay his victims.
"In the words of Nobel Prize-winning poet Bob Dylan, 'Some men rob you with a fountain pen,' and you fall into that category," Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III told Lloyd.
Lloyd had pleaded guilty last year to taking money from three women for home improvement jobs and not doing any work. He was placed on probation by State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Burns, on the condition that he make restitution payments of at least $1,000 a month, but he did not do so.
The probation violation case was heard in Niagara County because Lloyd, 45, had moved to Niagara Falls by the time he pleaded guilty before Burns, and was being supervised by the Niagara County Probation Department. However, Lloyd later moved back to West Seneca.
Lloyd's attorney, Alfonso M. Bax, pointed out that if Lloyd is in prison, he can't make any more payments until he gets out and finds a job. That didn't faze one of his victims, Jenny White of Blasdell.
"I think he should go to jail for the greater good of the public," White said after the court session. Lloyd still owes her about $12,700.
Two other victims in the case were from Orchard Park. Lloyd was ordered last May to repay the three clients a total of $17,900.
"It stinks right now that the victims won't get repaid, but they weren't getting repaid anyway," said Erie County Assistant District Attorney Christopher P. Jurusik, who was allowed to take over the prosecution's arguments before Murphy.
"I don't usually come to other counties, even when probation is transferred to other counties, but this case cries out for justice," Jurusik told the judge.
He said Lloyd "lacks a moral compass. He lacks decency. He's got to go away."
"My client is guilty of not being a very good businessman," Bax said. "He got in over his head, no question. ... My client needs to work for someone else. He can't manage his own funds."
Bax said Lloyd was working as a union carpenter after his guilty pleas to first-degree scheming to defraud and third-degree grand larceny. He lost that job after a hospitalization for "renal disorders" and publicity about his case, but Bax said Lloyd found another construction job.
Lloyd said he had repaid $2,150 since his last court date Jan. 17.
"I'm working very hard," he said. "I've made mistakes. I admit to that."
But Murphy said the repayments were "too little, too late."
"I think you are a con artist whose felony convictions didn't stop you from committing more crimes," Murphy told Lloyd.
Jurusik said the home improvement charges were a byproduct of a probe by Erie County's Special Investigations and Prosecutions Bureau into a snowplowing service in which Lloyd signed contracts with dozens of property owners in eight Erie County communities and never plowed any snow for most of them.
He said that case resulted in a civil settlement brokered by the State Attorney General's Office in which Lloyd was ordered to repay about $40,000.
On Christmas Eve, Lloyd was accused of renting a house he owned, which was threatened with foreclosure, to a family member who demanded their deposit and first month's rent back after they found out about the foreclosure. Bax said Lloyd wasn't able to make a full refund because he had already spent some of the money on repairs to the house, but he made a repayment agreement with the tenants.
"He's just a deplorable guy," Jurusik said.
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