Head of Roofing Scam Sentenced To 12 1/2 Years
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The head of a roofing scam that prosecutors say bilked more than $15 million from elderly and handicapped people was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison Wednesday.
Melvin Seligsohn, 62, of Huntingdon Valley, begged the judge for mercy before the sentencing.
″It was never my intention to hurt anyone,″ he said. ″It just got out of control.″
U.S. District Judge Charles Weiner responded, ″You hurt people as old as yourself.″
Seligsohn’s wife, 57-year-old Marlene, was sentenced to 6 2/3 years in prison by Weiner.
The Seligsohns pleaded guilty in federal court in October to operating a consumer fraud scheme and skimming money from the businesses they ran by keeping separate books for cash transactions.
The two owned the Mickey DeMarco Family Roofing Corp. and several affiliated firms, including Barelli, Amoroso Brothers, Mancini and Martini Roofing.
Prosecutors said the roofing companies would originally offer low estimates to customers, and once work was under way, would include expensive ″add-ons″ to inflate the price.
Prosecutors said they cheated mostly handicapped people and the elderly out of $15 million from 1972 until this year.
Seligsohn’s attorney, Thomas Bergstrom, didn’t downplay his client’s crimes.
″What this defendant did was for money pure and simple,″ he said. ″It is a financial crime and lots of people were hurt who shouldn’t have been hurt.″
The sentencing hearing broke down when the judge ordered Seligsohn to forfeit his life insurance policy and other assets for restitution purposes.
Mrs. Seligsohn called out, ″I want my premium back.″
The judge ordered her to remain quiet, but she continued to talk over her husband’s attempts to calm her down.
The judge ordered her removed from the room, telling her, ″This is a courtroom, not a barroom.″
Her reply was, ″Is this really a courtroom?″
After an hour recess, she was brought back in for sentencing.
She told the judge ″I’m not saying we did right. We did wrong. I tried helping people. I didn’t try to hurt them but things got out of hand.″
In sentencing her, Weiner ordered Mrs. Seligsohn to forfeit all her assets for restitution purposes also.
On Tuesday, three of the Seligsohn’s co-defendants were sentenced to jail by Weiner.
Jeff Kauffman, 26, of Maple Shade, N.J., was sentenced to two years in prison. Thomas McLellan, 40, of Philadelphia, was sentenced to a four-year term. Both worked as foremen for Seligsohn.
The third defendant, Arlene Hunter, 51, of Philadelphia, was sentenced to a six-month prison term. An office manager of one of Seligsohn’s companies, Ms. Hunter pleaded guilty to helping Seligsohn evade about $2 million in taxes and $426,000 in contributions to union benefit funds.