HAVERHILL, Mass. — A man charged with scamming up to $90,000 from two Haverhill people knew nothing about the scheme, his lawyer said.
Edmond Wormwood, 33, of Biddeford, Maine, simply did work at the family’s home and his boss handled all money issues, said Wormwood’s court-appointed lawyer Alisa Rosenthal.
Rosenthal said Billy Adams, 34, of Saco, Maine, was the principal businessman in the project. A police report repeatedly named Adams as the man who was primarily involved in the scheme, which charged lots of money for shoddy work, Rosenthal said.
Her comments came at Wormwood’s arraignment yesterday in Haverhill District Court, where he pleaded not guilty to embezzling the money. He was held on $10,000 bail.
Wormwood’s mother, June, was in court with her son and later said he is innocent.
“(Adams) used my son and took advantage of him,” said June Wormwood. “He had no idea about any of this. He thought he was just doing a job.”
She said Adams and Michael Mills, 28, of Arundel, Maine, were business partners and that her son worked for them for six months. Adams and Wormwood had known each other previously for a “long time,” June Wormwood said.
Prosecutor John DePaulo asked Judge Stephen Abany to hold Wormwood on $75,000 bail. DePaulo noted Wormwood has a long history of criminal activity, including being found guilty of robbery, abuse of a minor and motor vehicle theft.
Rosenthal asked that Wormwood be held on $1,000 bail and noted that since he was arrested, Wormwood has cooperated with the police and gave pertinent information regarding Adams and Mills. She also said that Wormwood would not be able to pay a significant bail. Wormwood’s mother said that her son was scraping up money and even sold his motorcycle for $1,000, anticipating that he would have to pay the bail.
The three Maine men are charged with scamming the money from an elderly Haverhill man and his 70-year-old daughter who are both mentally handicapped.
DePaulo said Wormwood was under investigation for several weeks for activities which occurred between Feb. 15 and April 6. Wormwood and Adams were arrested April 15 by state police in Maine on a warrant issued in Haverhill. Adams remains in custody in Maine, where he has pending court cases on similar charges for incidents that happened in that state, police said. Police said they are looking for Mills, who is also charged in the Haverhill case.
DePaulo said the three men approached the victims in February and offered to do handyman work around their house. He said the men charged $8,000 to clear out a basement, a job that took five hours.
The men also charged similar amounts for painting the house and cutting down a tree, which they said was in danger of falling, DePaulo said. The amount embezzled was at least $77,000 and could be as much as $90,000 for similar small work done during a six-week period, DePaulo said.
He said the two victims are mentally handicapped and rarely leave their house, except to go to the hospital or to rehabilitation programs.
DePaulo said the work at the Haverhill home was “shoddily done.”
The family’s back deck and shed both had paint peeling just a couple of days after being painted and the basement had barely been cleaned after the men were down there for five hours, DePaulo said.
DePaulo said Wormwood and Mills tried to cash the last check, for $8,000 which the victims wrote to Adams, but the check never cleared because bank employees noticed irregular spending in the victim’s account.
Rosenthal said Wormwood never received any money from that payment when Adams tried a second time to cash the check.
Wormwood will next appear in court for a pre-trial hearing on May 18.
© 2012 The Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, Mass.)
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