A 46-year-old Akron man was sentenced to 17 years in prison after taking a Fairgrove woman’s life savings – and then some – as part of a handyman scheme called “systematic and ruthless” by a judge in Tuscola County Circuit Court.
Billy Roy Fritz, who ran an unlicensed business called A-1 Handyman, was sentenced Wednesday by Tuscola County Circuit Court Judge Amy Grace Gierhart to a minimum of 17 years in prison for “false pretenses.” He also must pay full restitution. A jury found Fritz guilty in September.
Tuscola County prosecutors called Fritz’s plan to rip off Virginia Batterbee, 87, of Fairgrove, “cold and calculated.”
In all, he took nearly $115,000 from Batterbee over a seven-month period for what experts testified in court was less than $1,000 worth of actual work and materials.
“It was a disappointment to learn someone would be so devious,” Batterbee told The Advertiser after
Fritz’s sentencing. “As for his future, I wish that he would have a change of heart and learn a different way to live.”
Tuscola County Prosecutor Mark Reene called the case “infuriating” due to the extreme nature of the crime.
“It was very cold and calculated from his perspective and as to what he did,” Reene told The Advertiser. “There was a plan, he found a person who was trusting, and he just continued to exploit that circumstance to his obvious significant financial benefit and to her financial disaster.
“It’s hard,” Reene said. “You have someone who’s simply trying to solve a problem with her home that she loved, and this individual preyed upon her in every way imaginable.” (Read more)
(This story originally appeared in the Nov. 5, 2016 issue of The Tuscola County Advertiser and can be read online here.)