Oil company owner accused of cheating customers
CHELMSFORD, Mass. (WHDH) -- The owner of a Chelmsford oil company is accused of cheating customers out of thousands of dollars.
Some say he didn't even need the money because he won the lottery years before. The man won $1 million in a scratch off game in 2009, and then another $23,000 after that. Even so, in a report, prosecutors say he started ripping off his customers while collecting those winnings.
The Chelmsford business owner who hit a million-dollar jackpot was hauled into Lowell District Court in handcuffs. The 2009 lottery winner has been accused of taking thousands of dollars from unsuspecting customers.
“Not only did this man continue to steal after banking a million dollars, he also won an additional $23,380 playing the Massachusetts State Lottery,” said Regina Goldman, assistant district attorney.
Prosecutors say Michael Santaniello used his heating and oil business to collect $13,000 for work he never did. One woman who says she's a victim came to court. She didn't want her face on camera.
“He took a check for $1,800, cashed it within two hours and never returned,” the woman said.
The Billerica woman says she had worked with Santaniello for 20 years and never had a problem until last year.
“He kept promising he was going to get us our money,” said the woman.
For his million-dollar win, Lottery officials say Santaniello gets a $50,000 payout for 20 years. That's about $35,000 after taxes.
But the big winner's luck may be running out; a defense attorney says he's homeless and all out of cash.
“According to what he has told me, there is no money left," the defense attorney said.
Michael Santaniello was brought to court Friday afternoon from New Hampshire, where he was arrested earlier this week. He’s being held on $250,000 cash bail.