The owner of a Chelmsford business and former state lottery winner has been convicted in a home heating scam that took thousands from customers from several area communities, including Lexington, many of whom were elderly.
According to the Middlesex District Attorney's Office, Michael Santaniello, 60, of Chelmsford, pleaded guilty in Lowell District Court to charges of larceny over $250 from a person over 60 years of age (4 counts), larceny over $250 (6 counts), larceny by check over $250, larceny over $250 by false pretenses, and failure to return leased personalty.
The victims in this case are from Bedford, Billerica, Burlington Chelmsford, Lexington, Somerville, Westford and Wilmington, and police departments from all of those towns participated with the DA's Office in the investigation.
According to the press release, Santaniello, the owner of Mike's Oil Heat Service on Littleton Road in Chelmsford, won a $1 million prize in the Massachusetts State Lottery in 2009 and an additional $23,000 from the Lottery between August 2009 and June 2011.
“This defendant targeted seniors, many of whom had been his customers for years, and took advantage of them by taking deposits for work he never intended to perform and materials he never provided,” District Attorney Gerry Leone said in a press release. “This case demonstrates how addiction, when left untreated, can lead a person to such despair and selfishness that they would manipulate and deceive vulnerable, trusting members of our community who deserve better. I commend the good work of all the agencies involved whose collaborative efforts ensured that this defendant would be held accountable.”
Lowell District Court Judge Lynn Rooney sentenced Santaniello to 2 ½ years in the House of Correction with 18 months to serve and the balance suspended for 2 years. Following that sentence, the defendant was ordered to serve another 2 ½ year House of Correction sentence to be suspended for 5 years.
Santaniello also faced charges last year in relation to alleged theft of a rental car in Westford.
In addition to being sentence to spend time the House of Correction and probation to follow, Santaniello must also attend Gambler's Anonymous meetings, complete a money management course, pay restitution, not volunteer to work with eldery or disabled people, and not operate or manage his own business.