The owner of Classic Fence and Lumber admitted Monday that he scammed dozens of customers, pleading guilty to one felony count of first degree scheme to defraud.
Frederick DeNormand stood in State Supreme Court as Erie County Assistant District Attorney Gary Ertel read off the 50 names of people the company owner admitted taking at least $1,000 from and never delivering. He will have to deliver restitution approaching $139,000.
Supreme Court Justice Paul Wojtaszek led DeNormand through the long process of making a guilty plea.
"This restitution that you have already worked out, has anyone made promises to you relative to what your sentence will be?" asked the judge.
"No," DeNormand said.
"You're pleading guilty to a felony. I am advised that you have no prior criminal history," said Wojtaszek.
"No," said DeNormand.
"With a felony come certain waivers and forfeitures, such as your right to vote, your ability to apply for a pistol permit. These are some of the things that you give up. Do you understand that?" the judge asked.
Wojtaszek said he will go along with an extended probation for DeNormand, but prosecutors said by sentencing September 20, restitution has to be complete.
"Are you waiving this right of your own free will in order to obtain the plea offered by the people?" the judge asked.
"Yes, I do," DeNormand said.
"I told your attorney and the assistant DA that when you come back to be sentenced I was going to commit to extensive probation, no jail time, based on your making restitution and signing consent orders with the Attorney General's office. I understand that some of your property has already been sold," said Wojtaszek.
DA John Flynn said if restitution is not made by then, he will move for the judge to give DeNormand the up to four years of jail time allowed in the penal law.
DeNormand's guilty plea comes after the New York State Attorney General's Office also reached a settlement with the Amherst fence company for bilking customers.