I-Team: Paver sentenced for stealing from 97-year-old; didn't finish driveway work

Contractor pleaded guilty
Posted at 6:01 PM, Nov 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-29 18:49:43-05

HAMILTON, Ohio -- At 97, Mary Jane Davis doesn't have money to throw away.

That's why she appreciates getting back the $3,490 she paid for incomplete work on her driveway.

James Boswell Sr., a man old enough to be Davis' son, had to pay Davis that amount in restitution. The payment was part of the guilty plea he entered in Butler County Criminal Court several weeks ago. Boswell pleaded guilty to stealing from Davis.

Judge Noah E. Powers II sentenced Boswell Tuesday to five years of probation; one year is community control supervision, four years are basic probation. Boswell must also complete behavioral health corrective thinking classes, and a drug and alcohol assessment. The judge instructed him not to consume drugs or alcohol. The judge said Boswell tested positive for heroin during his sentencing investigation. The judge told Boswell he had to get a legitimate full-time job, and must complete 20 hours of community service per week until he finds a job.

Boswell told the 9 On Your Side I-Team, “You ruined my life!,” Tuesday after court.

The I-Team first exposed Boswell’s criminal past in July after getting several tips from viewers.

Court records show Boswell went to Davis' Butler County home on March 24, 2016 to seal her concrete driveway.

"He says, 'and you really need it.' I says, 'Well, I don't think I need it that bad, I don't even have a car," Davis said.

Boswell charged Davis $3,490 for work he didn't finish. Davis' niece and power of attorney, Bekki Hull, said that was all the money Davis had.

"I saw that there was $141 left in her account, and I was just livid," Hull said. "I was upset for her."

Davis said she felt intimidated and thought she had to pay Boswell.

At the Butler County Courthouse in July, Boswell said he had nothing to say about the charge, but told the I-Team he would make things right.

"Anything I've done, if they're not satisfied, I'll take care of it," he said.

A criminal background check revealed that Boswell has faced cases in at least five states from New York to Kentucky over the past decade. In Pennsylvania alone, court records show Boswell faced 54 charges including theft by deception and deceptive business practices before paying restitution to have the charges dropped.

He has repaid victims a total of more than $55,000 during the past decade, avoiding jail in several cases.

In Kentucky, charges were dropped against Boswell in June of 2016 after he repaid 74-year-old victim Helen Trautwein $4,000 of the $7,500 he was accused of taking from her after doing questionable work on her driveway.

"I'm scared he's coming back in the night," Trautwein said.

Boswell has also spent time behind bars in three states. He was released from post-prison supervision in Kentucky in March, just 19 days before his dealings with Davis.

"What we have are serial scammers," Gloria Sigman said. "We have prosecutor contractors who have committed the same.”

Sigman is the assistant prosecutor of white collar crimes and crimes against the elderly in Butler County. She works with the Crimes Against the Elderly Task Force that Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser established in 2011.

"I'm a voice for all the older people that get hurt," Sigman said.

Sigman filed charges of theft from a person in a protected class against Bosewell in Davis' case. She said she knew it was a strong case.

"His lawyer had everything at the first court appearance," Sigman said. "I don't throw crap on the wall to see if it sticks."

Sigman said Boswell wanted to plea before the case even got to trial. The charge was reduced from a fourth-class felony to a fifth-class felony as part of the deal. That reduced the maximum jail time he faced from 18 months to 12 months.

"I don't negotiate time for money, but she's going to be 98," Sigman said. "She's on a fixed income. She really wanted her money back."

Sigman said Boswell had actually forced Davis to make the check out to another man named Richard Corbell. Surveillance video shows that Boswell either drove Corbell to the bank or met him there, according to Sigman.

Hull said she was grateful for another watchful eye. A neighbor picked Boswell out of a line-up.

Sigman said the court already has the restitution money Boswell is required to pay Davis, and Davis will get it in 30 to 45 days.

There is currently no law that gives people like Boswell a greater punishment if he serves his time and gets caught doing the same crime again.

Sigman said she wants the laws changed. She said anyone’s parents, relatives, or even neighbors could easily end up the victim of theft. She commends Mary Jane Davis for sharing her story to help others.

For now, the Butler County Prosecutor's Office has made a pamphlet to help older residents protect themselves. There's also more information about the Crimes Against the Elderly Task Force available here.

Court records in Boswell's case can be viewed below:

Boswell_2016_ButlerCo(1) by James on Scribd