Five men charged with scamming elderly for asphalt in Stoddard County

Monday, November 10, 2008

BLOOMFIELD, Mo. — Five out-of-state men sit in the Stoddard County jail today charged with exploiting and conspiring to exploit elderly couples by promising to pave their driveways for one price and then demanding more money.

Paul Collins, 20; Jay Mackleroy Joles, 26; Jerry Gale Joles Jr., 45, all of Arena, Wis.; Isaiah Elbert, 53, of Linden, Wis.; Jose Gomez Martinez, 30, of Corcoran, Calif.; and Orval Lee Whipple, 18, of Dix, Ill., initially were charged Wednesday with the Class B felony of financial exploitation of the elderly by Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney Briney Welborn.

The men were arraigned Thursday morning before Associate Circuit Judge Joe Satterfield, who set their bonds at $125,000 cash.

On Friday, Welborn filed an additional Class C felony of conspiracy to financially exploit elderly persons against the men, whose bonds were set at $25,000 cash.

"On Nov. 4, Paul Collins Jr., along with six other crew members, did approach Phyllis and Charles Williams at their residence," located on Route J, and entered into an agreement with the Williamses to pave their driveway for $200 to $250, Stoddard County Deputy Mike Mooty said in his probable cause affidavit on file with the court.

Upon completing the work agreed upon, "Collins and crew changed the amount agreed upon with the Williamses to $2,600, plus $525 to seal the driveway," Mooty said. "The Williamses told him 'no,' and he advised them he would have to pull up the asphalt, which had been laid.

"Collins then made a phone call to his dad and they told the Williamses it would cost $500. Mrs. Williams paid Collins and his crew $500."

Phyllis Williams reported it was Jay Joles, who came to her residence, stating "they had been doing some asphalt work down the road and had some left," Deputy Tim McCoy said in his report on file with the court. "Jay stated for $200 to $250, he could put that on her driveway. He stated it would be about 3-inches thick."

After discussing it with her husband, McCoy said, the Williamses agreed to the price.

"Phyllis stated a short time later, a crew of six men arrived at the residence," McCoy said. "When the crew arrived, Jay told Phyllis it may cost just a little more. Phyllis stated she agreed."

When the job was finished, Jay Joles reportedly asked the woman for a calculator.

"Jay told her it would be $2,600, plus an additional $325 if she wanted it sealed," McCoy said. "Phyllis stated she told Jay she wasn't paying that amount.

"Jay stated he and his crew would have to take up the asphalt. [She] told them to take it up then, but not to tear up the driveway."

A subsequent call was made by Joles, who then reported they would leave the asphalt for $500, which Phyllis Williams paid, McCoy said.

Later in they day, McCoy said, Phyllis Williams reported the incident to the sheriff's department after seeing the men working at another Route J residence.

When McCoy contacted the men at the second residence, Jerry Joles, who was released on bond Friday, identified himself as the boss.

Mooty subsequently arrived and determined on the men, Collins, also was "involved in a scam against an elderly couple in Pyletown" in October.

In his probable cause affidavit, Mooty said, Collins approached Judy and Delbert Pruets at their County Road 639 residence at Pyletown and entered into an agreement to pave their driveway for $50 to $100.

"Upon completing the work agreed upon, Collins changed the amount agreed with [the couple] to $4,800 without informing them of the change," Mooty said. "Collins then followed the Pruetts to the credit union in Malden in an attempt to collect the money."

Contact was made with a teller at the credit union, who reported the Pruetts had asked for a $3,800 loan for having their driveway paved, Mooty said.

"[The teller] said after talking with the Pruetts she advised them that the whole deal sounded like a fraud to her and she called the Stoddard County Sheriff's office to report it," Mooty said.

The Pruetts, he said, were at the credit union and two men allegedly had followed them there to get their money.

Mooty said he went to the credit union, where he contacted the Pruetts.

"The Pruetts stated the men told them they had been doing a paving job in the area, and they had some asphalt left over and they asked the Pruetts if they wanted them to pave their driveway," Mooty explained. "The Pruetts stated they asked the men how much it would cost, and they were told between $50-$100 for the job."

The Pruetts, he said, told the men to go ahead and paid them $50.

"The Pruetts said when the men got through with the job, they told [them] it would cost $4,800 for the job," Mooty said, "The Pruetts said the men told them that if they could pay them today, it would only cost them $3,700

"[The couple] said they would have to go to the credit union to get the money, and the men followed them there."

The men, according to the Pruetts, did not give them an estimate or any paperwork.

Mooty said he also contacted Collins, who identified himself as the "boss of the operation," and another man in Malden.

Collins, he said, reported having a small paving business out of Marion, Ill. "Paul was unable to give me an address for the business or for himself," he said.

Collins, according to Mooty, told him he had approached the Pruetts about paving their driveway.

"He states he does not know where the $50-$100 quote came from," Mooty said. "Paul said he told the Pruetts he would charge them $4 a foot to do the driveway or $400 for a 10 foot by 10 foot area."

Collins confirmed the Pruetts had paid him $50.

"Paul also said he told the Pruetts that if they would pay him today he would only charge them $3,700," Mooty said.

Collins answered negatively when he was asked about providing the couple a written estimate or a receipt for the money he had been paid.

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