WAREHAM — Matthew Will, 37, of Halifax, owner of Five Star Discount Roofing, was in Wareham District Court Friday, Dec. 7, facing six larceny-related charges stemming from two Middleborough Police Department complaints alleging he took deposits by check for roofing and household contract work from six residents of the Oak Point 55-plus community in Middleborough, cashed the checks but did not start or complete the work as promised.
Will faces similar charges in Plymouth District Court, stemming from Kingston and Hanson allegations.
These charges are in addition to a long list of others, including a separate case also stemming from alleged crimes at the Oak Point community, in which Will is facing 15 counts of larceny over $250 by false pretense. A pre-trial conference was conducted on that case after the arraignments on the latest charges.
Judge Douglas J. Darnbrough presided over the proceedings, to which Will had been summonsed. His Plymouth-based attorney, Jack Atwood, pled not guilty on his behalf. At one point, Will attempted to address the judge, but Atwood stopped him from speaking, bellowing “Be quiet!”
Police and court reports paint a picture of a once reputable roofer unable or unwilling to keep up with the amount of work he had committed to, and the Middleborough Building Inspector, Robert Whalen, alerting police to complaints about Will while continuing to issue building permits despite warnings from Oak Point residents.
Whalen, in a phone interview Dec. 10, stated that disputes between contractors and homeowners are outside of his jurisdiction, but that in an effort to protect the community, he contacted Detective Simonne Ryder, of the Middleborough Police, regarding Will when Whalen had received about ten complaints.
As of press time, Will is facing a total of one count of larceny over $1,200 by false pretense, two counts of larceny over $1,200, 19 counts of larceny over $250 by false pretense, one count of larceny under $250 by false pretense and one count of forgery of a document.
There are 23 area households in three communities claiming they have been victimized to date, who have lost a combined $153,197.34 in monies given for work not done, with individual losses ranging from $695 to $15,569. Most of these victims are over age 55, and many are quite elderly, according to police reports. The alleged victim who lost the most money is 78 years old.
Grievances against Will date back to at least 2017, according to public records. But by late May, 2018, enough residents from Oak Point had lodged complaints to catch the attention of the building inspector, Whalen, at which time authorities noticed Will’s insurance and building licenses had expired, according to police reports.
The detective opened a weeks-long investigation into Will on May 22, but police took no action on the inquiry until early August, by which time the number of alleged victims had grown and multiple police departments were investigating Will.
The report also stated that the building inspector was dealing with the issue, personally inspecting jobs and warning residents not to give 100 percent deposits as some residents had been doing.
Some residents were attempting to sue Will in small claims court for their losses, while the investigation was in-process.
The building department was giving Will five licenses at a time because he said that he had 30 open jobs in Oak Point, records say. The report states that he was only able to complete a handful of those jobs over the course of a few weeks and had effectively disappeared by Aug. 1, 2018.
Between June 21, and the day before Ryder’s first complaint was written on Aug. 2, there is no record of any follow-up by the detective on the matter in court files. The alleged victim in Kingston hired Will on July 15, and the alleged victim in Hanson hired him on July 31.
Whalen said that he reported Will to the Southeastern Massachusetts Building Association, which should have notified other local building inspectors about Will, according to Whalen.
He will next be in Plymouth District Court on Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 9 a.m. for two pre-trial hearings. The three Wareham District Court cases have been continued to March 4, 2019, at 9 a.m. as well for pre-trial hearings.
Will cannot be reached by phone or email and the investigation in Middleborough is ongoing, police said.