April 25, 2012
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today filed criminal charges against three men for allegedly defrauding elderly consumers into overpaying for substandard asphalt and paving work. The three defendants, Terry Wayne Phelps, Michael David Rickey and Peter Jason Morgan, offer asphalting and paving services under names such as “Road Maintenance Construction” and “Premier Paving.”
The charges include allegations that the defendants:
Koster filed the following charges:
Against Phelps in Boone County -- five counts of financial exploitation of the elderly and three counts of unlawful merchandising practices fraud in connection with the sale of asphalt and paving services to five elderly Boone County consumers. In Phelps County – one count of financial exploitation of the elderly and unlawful merchandising practices fraud in connection with the sale of asphalt and paving services to one Phelps County consumer. The charges also allege that Terry Phelps is a prior offender as a result of convictions for burglary during 1992 and 1993. If convicted, and because of his status as a prior and persistent felon, Terry Phelps could face a term of up to life in prison.
Against Rickey in Boone County -- two counts of financial exploitation of the elderly and two counts of unlawful merchandising practices fraud in connection with the sale of asphalt and paving services to two elderly Boone County consumers.
Against Morgan in Phelps County -- one count of financial exploitation of the elderly and unlawful merchandising practices fraud in connection with the sale of asphalt and paving services to one Phelps County consumer.
Koster previously filed criminal charges against Phelps and Morgan in September 2011 for theft/stealing, financial exploitation of the elderly, and deceptive business practices. That case is scheduled for a jury trial in June.
Financial exploitation of the elderly is a Class B felony under Missouri law, punishable upon conviction by up to fifteen years in prison per count. Unlawful merchandising practices is a Class D felony under Missouri law, punishable upon conviction by up to four years in prison and a fine of $5,000 per count. The pending charges against the defendants are merely accusations. As in all criminal cases, the defendants are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty.
Koster is warning Missourians to be on the alert for “asphalt companies” that go door-to-door, claiming they have leftover asphalt.
Scam artists posing as legitimate asphalt companies target individuals in rural areas as well as elderly individuals, and use high-pressure sales tactics to get them to agree to work. Koster warned that these scammers will increase the prices significantly after the work is done and will immediately cash the check at the victim’s bank. Oftentimes these individuals are unable to produce local references and may have out-of-state licenses or plates. They also often have no proof of workers’ compensation insurance. After performing shoddy work, they will skip town, leaving the homeowner with little or no recourse.
Koster offered the following tips for consumers to avoid being scammed:
To report these types of scams to the Attorney General’s Office, submit a complaint form online at ago.mo.gov or call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-392-8222.