A man who bilked senior citizens of thousands of dollars has been sentenced to jail and probation.
Stephen Michael Mendoza, 59, pleaded guilty to attempted schemes and artifices. Pima County Superior Court Judge Casey McGinley sentenced Mendoza to 120 days in Pima County Jail and four years’ probation Thursday. If he violates probation, Mendoza could serve up to eight years in prison.
Mendoza’s actions began to draw the attention of Oro Valley Police in August 2013 after several residents of the Sun City area contacted police about a contractor taking money for work but never completing the jobs.
“Someone was pinpointing our senior community,” said Lt. Kara Riley, Oro Valley Police spokeswoman.
Riley said detectives began to investigate, ultimately finding 11 victims.
Mendoza would approach residents of Sun City with offers to paint their homes or do other repair work.
“He would ask to be prepaid and either not show up or only do a partial job,” Riley said.
Court documents show Mendoza may have accumulated as much as $30,000 in payments from the victims for incomplete jobs and others he never started.
The average age of the victims was nearly 75 years old, according an Arizona Attorney General’s Office news release.
The Arizona Attorney said Mendoza was not a licensed contractor at the time of the incidents.
The Arizona Registrar of Contractor had received several complaints about Mendoza. In January, the Registrar fined him $1,020 and ordered he pay $2,150 in restitution for contracting without a license.
Mendoza’s attorney, Rafael F. Gallego, was out of town and unavailable to comment.
A sentencing memorandum Gallego filed earlier this month, however, said Mendoza was remorseful and did not intend to harm the victims.
The document said Mendoza had troubled finances and was attempting to earn more money by taking on as much work as he could. Subsequently, he was unable to complete much of the work he solicited.
“Mr. Mendoza readily admits that he had a very difficult time coming to terms with the volume of demand for the completion of the projects he had undertaken but he wants the Court to understand that it was not his purpose to hurt any of the victims or to defraud them,” the memo reads.
Mendoza was originally charged with nine counts, including fraudulent schemes and artifices and theft.