2 plead guilty to role in nationwide phone scam
PITTSFIELD, Mass. (AP) — Two men who participated in an elaborate phone scam that cheated people from across the nation have agreed to repay their victims but avoided time behind bars, Massachusetts prosecutors said.
Ajaykumar Chaudhari, 26, of Pownal, Vermont, and Jitendra Chaudhari, 29, of Williamstown, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court to larceny and attempt to commit larceny, according to a statement Wednesday from the office of Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington. They were arrested in June 2020.
The guilty pleas were filed by the court, meaning the defendants won’t be sent to jail as long as they stay out of additional legal trouble.
They, together with a third defendant, have agreed to pay more than $200,000 in restitution. That third defendant, Parth Chaudhari, pleaded guilty to the same charges in December and was sentenced to time served. The restitution money has already been secured, prosecutors said.
All three men are members of the same family, the district attorney’s office said.
“The victims in this case overwhelmingly supported a resolution that would return the most money in the most timely manner while sparing them, many of whom are aging and live out of state, from having to travel to Massachusetts to testify,” Harrington said in a statement.
The three men, sometimes posing as government employees, targeted about 20 victims, some of whom sent packages of cash, often to an address in Adams, Massachusetts, prosecutors said.
In one case, they told the victim their Social Security number had been compromised and they needed to send money to fix the problem, according to the DA’s office. Victims came from multiple states including California, Missouri, Ohio and Virginia, prosecutors said.
Adams police started investigating in March 2020 after getting tips from out-of-state law enforcement agencies.
During the investigation, victims and law enforcement intercepted packages of cash together worth more than $100,000.