Paver Who Scammed South County Seniors Not Sentenced as Scheduled
In January, paving scammer Tommy Clack told Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Paul Hackner that he understood and agreed to a plea agreement with prosecutors that would charge him with crimes and most importantly, help victims recover tens of thousands of dollars in restitution. Many of those victims live in South County.
Clack was due in court last Thursday to pay restitution and find out about his sentence—but his attorney requested a postponement, which was granted.
It was a little odd then, to discover that Clack was in another state last week, running the same paving scam on homeowners that he had run here in Anne Arundel County. The South River Source corresponded with a victim and turned that information over to the state’s attorney’s office in Annapolis on Monday.
This will mark the third time that Clack was in another state when it came time to go to court in Maryland.
We are not disclosing details about the latest scheme so that authorities can have time to catch up with Clack.
How the scam works
We discovered Clack about a year ago, in April 2011, when he paved a driveway in Davidsonville. He told the homeowner that he had “leftover paving materials” and that he could be finished in no time. He said the job would cost around $400. The homeowner wasn’t even sure she had said yes. She went to the grocery store and when she came home, her driveway paving was well underway.
When Clack returned with the invoice, he wanted $61,000, and no, the decimals and commas are not in the wrong place. The woman’s husband argued with Clack in the couples’ driveway for nearly two hours—until the bill was reduced to $15K. In the end, the victim found that the job was likely worth about $5,000 to $6,000.
Later, we heard from others. A woman in Crownsville whose elderly parents had been duped. Clack helped that couple to clean out their savings account. The daughter had tried to get the check stopped at the bank, but it had already been cashed. Then we heard about another in Lothian.
Soon we were hearing of incidents where senior citizens were being taken advantage of all over Anne Arundel County. The name was always one of two: Tommy Clack or Tommy Clark.
The mode of his deceit was also always the same. People told me: “He seemed like a nice guy; He said he had leftover asphalt; It seemed like a good deal; He told me he used to live around here and he and his wife used to walk the dog around the neighborhood; His dad started the business and now he is in business with his son.”
He allegedly used similar tactics with a Greensboro game room supplier over the phone last spring, ripping him off for a $25,000 jukebox and audio accessories for a rented mansion Clack was living off of Sherwood Forest Road in Annapolis. In that incidence, the audio dealer sent the merchandise Cash On Delivery. The delivery part worked out great. The cash part not so much. That charge of grand larceny was one the police were willing to take seriously.
Every year paving scams operate in our area. The typical scam is people who think they are getting a sealant on the driveway, but instead get a driveway painted in black latex paint. Those victims end up with a painted driveway that washes out with the first rain. They’re typically out $100 or so.
Clack elevated the paving scam to a new level.
Maryland contractors should be able to show you a valid Maryland Contractor’s License number, which you can quickly look up online. Contracted home improvement work can not begin to work inside of a three-day waiting period when the customer can change his/her mind and cancel the contract. There are exceptions to this rule, but never when the work is solicited by the vendor.
Unlicensed contractors can be criminals; they may not be properly trained; they may use sub-par materials. Please read here before signing contracts for home improvement work.
Maryland wasn’t the first state for Clack. In 2008, the paver was banned from contracting work in the entire state of North Carolina. In Raleigh, Angies List dubbed him “worst contractor” for two years in a row for pressuring homeowners into signing paving contracts. By 2010, Clack was back at work when police arrested him in Southern Pines, NC where he was working without a license.
In late 2010, Clack migrated to Florence, S.C., where a grand jury later indicted him on four felony counts of obtaining property under false pretenses and four misdemeanor counts of swindling.
In Maryland, he ran his paving scheme on residents of Anne Arundel, Howard, Queen Anne’s and possibly Delaware in 2011.
In January of 2012, when the May 10 sentencing date was announced, Clack was released from custody on a $300,000 bond. He was set to pay $70,000-plus in restitution to a number of victims at the hearing.
States Attorney spokeswoman Kristin Fleckenstein said that the defense asked for a postponement from May 10. It was granted and the hearing postponed until July.
In the end, not all the victims I spoke with came forth to police. Some were too embarrassed. Or they didn’t want their adult children to know how careless they had been with their money.
Meanwhile others might not even be aware they were charged twice, four times, ten times, even 12 times more the usual rate for a paving job.
Clack on the run
In 2011, two detectives, Mark Ottey of the Southern District Police Station and Kevin Niebur, of the Maryland Department of Labor and Licensing were on Clack’s trail. There were charges on the books, including grand larceny for the audio equipment scheme. A warrant for Clack was issued. Not too much later, he was found in South Carolina at a $3,000 a week resort.
He was returned to Maryland and promptly released. Clack then took a little time for himself to pave driveways in Queen Anne’s County. Once the Sheriff issued a warrant for his arrest, Clack discovered Florida. Police caught up with him and once again, returned him to Maryland. He spent a few weeks in Jennifer Road Detention and then accepted the plea agreement and plead guilty to the charges. Then the date was set for sentencing… then postponed.
Please. If someone shows up at your door with a deal that seems to good to be true…
…then it probably is.