• Lottery winner pleads guilty in home heating scam


    A Chelmsford man who won a $1 million prize in the Mass. State Lottery has pleaded guilty to several charges related to the alleged targeting of senior citizens in a home heating scam.

    Michael Santaniello, 60, pleaded guilty in Lowell District Court to four counts of larceny over $250 from a person over 60 years of age, six counts of larceny over $250, larceny by check over $250, larceny over $250 by false pretenses, and failure to return leased personalty.

    District Attorney Gerry Leone claims Santaniello targeted and took advantage of seniors who were customers of his oil heat service for years by taking deposits for work he "never intended to perform and materials he never provided."

    Investigators claim Santaniello, who owns Mike's Oil Heat Service in Chelmsford, stole more than $20,000 from his customers.

    Santaniello has been ordered to serve 2 1/2 years in the House of Correction, with 18 months to serve and the balance suspended for two years. After that, he will serve an additional 2 1/2-year sentence in the House of Correction to be suspended for five years. He will then be placed on probation.

    Santaniello  won  $1 million in the lottery in 2009. He won an additional $23,000 from the lottery between August 2009 and June 2011. One of the conditions of his probation is that he attend Gambler's Anonymous meetings and complete a money management course. He must also pay restitution, not engage in any employment or volunteer work with elderly or disabled people, and not operate or manage his own business.

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