False-data case term imposed

Contractor given five years of probation

December 20, 2006|By Tyrone Richardson | Tyrone Richardson,sun reporter

For Francine Diggs, a recent victim of a Baltimore County contractor who has been repeatedly accused of defrauding the disabled and their families, court-ordered restitution of $6,300 doesn't begin to make her feel whole.

Diggs believes Paris G. George, who agreed to install a wheelchair lift for her disabled parents at their Clarksville home but never performed the work, should have gone to jail.

Judge Lenore Gelfman sentenced George last week to five years of probation - requiring a psychological evaluation and suspending a five-year prison sentence - after he admitted providing false documents during a May 2005 trial in which he was acquitted of charges of acting as a home-improvement contractor without a license and failing to deliver the wheelchair lift for Diggs.

"This man has taken so many people's money, and it's a travesty that all they could do is give him probation," Diggs said.

After the 2005 trial, prosecutors began investigating the invoice and bank document George provided to show that he purchased the wheelchair lift for Diggs but did not receive it from the Canada-based distributor.

"We were able to find the company and gave them the documents. ... They came back with a letter explaining why these were fictitious documents," said Brendan Clary, an assistant state's attorney. "He did business with them before, and he took the previous invoices and dummied them up to model the new one."

A grand jury indicted George, of the 2000 block of Burn Court Road in Glen Arm, on a single count of perjury last year.

George's guilty plea came as a surprise to prosecutors, who were expecting the court to hold a motions hearing.

"That type of thing does happen, and it's not completely uncommon. But it was not what I was expecting that day," said Stacy Mayer, also an assistant state's attorney. " ... Ultimately, we wanted him to be accountable for what he did and to put a conviction on his record."

The case against George had been through numerous postponements, including one because a lawyer withdrew from the case after George gave him a bad check and did not pay for services, according to court records.

Aaron S. Schwartz, the attorney that appeared for George at his guilty plea, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

A Baltimore County Circuit Court judge ordered George in 2004 to pay a $75,000 penalty for violating the Consumer Protection Act, Door-to-Door Sales Act and Merchandise Delivery Law, according to court records.

tyrone.richardson@baltsun.com

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