Sunday, February 5, 2023
Home People Smithfield man facing drug charges also accused by several people of defrauding them on home repair projects in central Maine

Smithfield man facing drug charges also accused by several people of defrauding them on home repair projects in central Maine

by admin
0 comment

A 31-year-old man facing charges in Somerset County for unlawful possession of drugs is being accused by several people of defrauding them by taking thousands of dollars for home repair projects that he never performed.

Zacheriah Adams, who has lived in Anson, Farmington, Jay and most recently Smithfield, was arrested in Norridgewock on Oct. 26 following a traffic stop during which a Somerset County sheriff’s deputy found fentanyl and cocaine in his vehicle, according to court records. Adams later posted bond and was released from jail.

Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Mike Mitchell said this week that investigators also are looking at Adams as a suspect in the theft of a debit card and for writing a bad check.

But several people have identified Adams as the man who passed himself off as a contractor, collected payments from them on the promise to complete home repair work, and then disappeared with their money.

Zacheriah Adams, in a 2020 jail booking photo. Photo courtesy of Franklin County Sheriff’s Office

Brandon Burns, 35, is a Massachusetts resident who works as a property developer and landlord in Maine with properties in Rumford and elsewhere. Adams came recommended by a friend who had previously employed Adams’ company, A&W Construction, and could vouch for his work. Burns needed a siding job done and in October offered it to Adams, who asked for half of the payment upfront – $2,500 – to buy materials. Burns agreed and the two signed a contract.

“(Adams) said he was going to start the following Monday,” Burns said. “The following Monday came and went, no activity, no activity … I gave him a couple days. You know, things happen. Weather, etcetera. And then I started calling him. He wouldn’t answer the phone. Nothing, nothing … and then his phone got shut off.”

Unable to get a hold of Adams, Burns said he got back in touch with the friend who put him in contact with Adams and found out that the friend had subsequently been taken for more than $22,000.

Burns said his friend asked the sheriff’s office to do a wellness check on Adams, and it was Chief Deputy Mitchell who went to Adams’ home on Quaker Lane in Smithfield but couldn’t locate him. Mitchell said this week that deputies still don’t know where Adams is.

Burns posted a message to a community Facebook page on Nov. 9 asking Waterville residents if anyone had information on Adams. To his surprise, the post blew up. By the end of the month, it had 152 shares and 77 comments, some of which were people sharing similar stories.

Attempts to reach Adams to respond to the allegations were unsuccessful. A phone listing for A&W Construction was no longer in service.

Adams has not been charged in relation to his work as a contractor and Mitchell said his office has so far received one complaint about his work.

Mitchell said that unless anyone can prove Adams took the job intending to default on payments, it’s not a criminal case. Legally, “he didn’t steal money,” Mitchell said, explaining that it’s a case involving a civil breach of contract. Adams is obligated to either do the promised work or give the money back, he said.

People who hired Adams said they’re not able to contact him, as his phone number was disconnected. A 32-year-old Waterville woman said she has hired a lawyer with the goal of filing something in small claims court. The woman, who asked not to be identified, sent out demand letters in October to Adams’ last known address after she said he failed to perform work on her home in June. He took $4,300 from her as a down payment and then never responded to her calls or messages.

“That’s a lot of money for a young family,” said the woman, who’s married with a 1-year-old child. “We still want to get that work done. We aren’t able to do it because our savings have been damaged.”

She said that in pursuing justice, hiring a lawyer and launching civil proceedings, it feels like she’s spending more and more of her money with nothing to show for it.

In an effort to prevent others from doing business with Adams, she said she’s stapled her demand letters to a few A&W Construction signs she’s seen around Waterville.

The woman and others who spoke with the Morning Sentinel looked at a jail booking photo of Adams to confirm that he was the one they spoke to about their home improvement projects.

Adams is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday on the drug possession charges, but Mitchell is doubtful he’ll show.

“I talked to the deputy that arrested him; he doesn’t even think (Adams) is in Maine,” Mitchell said.

Adams has a criminal record that includes convictions for domestic violence assault in 2015, criminal mischief a year later and other offenses. But court records show he failed to appear for some court hearings and defaulted on payments. He had sent letters to court officials explaining his absences, saying he had mixed up court dates or was enrolled in a residential rehabilitation program for substance abuse in Portland.

If Adams doesn’t appear for his court hearing Wednesday, Mitchell said prosecutors will issue a warrant for his arrest on the drug charges. If they find he has indeed fled the state, it’ll be up to the district attorney’s office to decide if it wants to extradite him back to Maine.

Brandon Burns’ friend, the one who had initially recommended Adams for the work Burns wanted done, echoed the sentiment of others who said they were victimized by Adams.

“I’m no fool, I know I’m likely to never see a penny of this money,” said the man, who also asked not to be identified. “At the very least, we can cast light on this guy so he won’t take other people.”

Leave a Comment