• Unlicensed contractor, wife plead guilty to bilking homeowners


    TAUNTON, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) -- An unlicensed home improvement contractor from Taunton and his wife have pleaded guilty to stealing thousands from homeowners looking to rebuild after their homes were devastated by fire.

    Arthur J. Amaral, Jr., 53, pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges that include 10 counts of larceny by false pretenses over $250, two counts of operating as an unlicensed home improvement contractor, four counts of failure to pay for materials after receiving sufficient funds for them, and material misrepresentation to procure a contract.

    Amaral's wife and business partner, 46-year-old Laurajo Amaral, pleaded guilty to one count of larceny by false pretenses.

    Investigators say the charges stem from four complaints, two of which involved people seeking to rebuild their homes after they were damaged by fire. The couple is accused of requesting and receiving payments for items, including flooring and cabinets, without ever purchasing the items.

    In two other cases, Amaral is accused of receiving money after committing to a home improvement job and then ceasing contact with the property owners.

    The couple is accused of stealing more than $180,000 as a result of the scheme.

    Investigators also allege for nearly 20 years, the couple has had a pattern of opening a real estate or construction company, bankrupting it or putting it out of business, and then opening a new company without ever registering the companies.

    Arthur and Laurajo Amaral are due back in court on Sept. 12 for sentencing.

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