Va. man who pleaded guilty to defrauding elderly woman now a wan - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Va. man who pleaded guilty to defrauding elderly woman now a wanted fugitive

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James Butler James Butler
WASHINGTON -

U.S. Marshals are looking for a Virginia man who skipped out on his sentencing earlier this month after pleading guilty to scamming a D.C. woman out of tens of thousands of dollars.

James Butler is a fugitive from justice. He is wanted for stealing nearly $200,000 from a retired federal worker in her 90s.

Police are calling Butler a "woodchucker” -- an unlicensed contractor who preys on the elderly.

It's an age-old scam, but in this case, police and prosecutors say Butler took it to a new level.

"He took total advantage of the woman's age and the fact that she has dementia," says MPD Commander George Kucik. "He basically stole close to $200,000 from her."

She is 93 years old. A retired federal worker who lives alone and has no family.

Her lawyer is MaryJane Reynolds.

"He's such a poor excuse for a human being," Reynolds says of Butler.

Butler is 52 and lives in Culpeper. Now a wanted man after pleading guilty to defrauding the woman out of $174,000 and failing to show up for his sentencing on April 10. Butler is facing up to 15 years in prison.

"We want to get him in (court)," Kucik tells us. "We want people to be wary of him if he's out there trying to get other jobs."

His victim, whom we are not identifying, has lived in her Foggy Bottom home since the 1950s.

"They (Butler, his son and nephew) charged her three times to paint her shed," Ms. Reynolds says. "And they said they gave her a new brick walk, and they put in two bricks and painted the brick so it would look like it had been new."

They painted her roof, but only part of it. They used the same color to paint her chimney. They charged her thousands of dollars to work in her small backyard and charged her dearly to wash several small awnings.

"He was taking advantage of the fact that she was confused and not able to process how much money she was really writing the check for and how much it should have cost her to get things done," Reynolds says.

Federal prosecutors sent us documentation showing repeated payments for work and materials either not performed or produced.

"And she wasn't able to comprehend that she was paying for the same thing over and over," her lawyer says.

Authorities say Butler owns a tree service company operating out of his home in Culpeper, but is not licensed to do home improvement work in the District.

We are told Butler decided to plead guilty after his son and nephew turned on him to avoid prosecution.


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