San Francisco Contractor Ordered to Pay $332,777.26 in Restitution after Scamming Now-Deceased Elderly Homeowner for Years

Chesa Boudin at the February 15 Press Conference

By Alex Jimenez

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin last week announced the recovery of more than $300,000 in restitution to an elderly woman’s estate after years of fraud and deception by San Francisco General Contractor William Harold Schwarz.

The DA’s office reports that Schwarz pleaded guilty to felony grand theft, was sentenced to two years felony probation, and ordered to pay the victim’s estate $332,777.26 in restitution for the theft he committed.

Additionally, Schwarz is prohibited from working as a contractor during his probation and will pay fines and fees associated with the crime.

“Our elderly residents are often the most vulnerable to these crimes. Those who take advantage of our elders and prey upon their vulnerabilities will be held accountable,” said District Attorney Boudin, adding, “We are pleased that we were able to get restitution for the victim after such an enormous betrayal.”

The DA’s press release suggests that Schwarz befriended an elderly San Francisco homeowner while working as a general contractor and completing small jobs for the victim. Schwarz had spent years developing a relationship with the victim and, after gaining her trust, convinced her to pay him large sums of money for work on her home.

The work was either never completed or “he did a poor job,” said the DA’s office.

It was discovered from written contracts that Schwarz was also billing the victim multiple times for the same work and dramatically overcharging for the minimal work that was done on the home.

Intervention by law enforcement and Assistant District Attorney Phoebe Maffei was made possible after the victim’s cousin discovered the fraud and diligently advocated on the victim’s behalf.

The San Francisco Police Department, the Contractors State Licensing Board, and ADA Maffei worked together to ensure that Schwarz was held responsible for his crime.

Elderly abuse of all kinds has been a growing concern both locally and nationally, and the FBI reports that millions of elderly Americans fall victim to financial fraud with seniors accumulating $3 billion in losses annually.

Meanwhile, crimes against the elderly in San Francisco have been well documented through the media or captured on video, as physical attacks and robberies garner a majority of the attention.

There is limited data indicating that elder financial fraud is exclusively a San Francisco problem, and the consensus among the public is that more needs to be done to protect elder residents.

In November, Boudin launched a campaign to combat elder abuse, acknowledging that elder abuse incidents may be underreported. The campaign urges victims, witnesses, and other community members to come forward to report all forms of elder abuse, including financial abuse, racially targeted attacks, and elder neglect.

When reached for further comment, the DA’s office said it has expanded outreach to protect elder community members, in addition to creating a unit that focuses on elder abuse.

A recently published annual report by the DA’s office provides more information on the work being done to combat elder abuse, including public service announcements warning people of scams and how to get help and protect themselves against abuse. There is also an elder abuse steering committee.

About The Author

Alex Jimenez is a 4th year politcal science major at the University of Calfornia, Berkeley. He has future aspirations to attend law school and is from Pleasanton, Ca.

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      1. Bill Marshall

        Actually, an attorney was to have deliver a “cease and desist” order re:  her complaints, but got it jumbled up, and it came out as a “cyst and decease order”… thinking that was a Court directive, she complied…

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