An alleged scam artist bilked a Schenectady dairy out of $5,000 under the guise of wanting to purchase the business, state police said Tuesday.
John J. Hughes, 42, of Syracuse, was charged Monday with one count of third-degree grand larceny, a felony.
He is accused of taking the money under the pretense that he needed to perform a risk assessment analysis before purchasing the dairy. State Police spokeswoman Maureen Tuffey identified the business as Cappiello Cheeses. The business has the same address as F. Cappiello Dairy in Schenectady.
A representative of the dairy was unavailable Tuesday to comment on whether the third-generation family-owned dairy is still available, or even what exactly would have been included in the proposed sale.
Nonetheless, Peter Cappiello, president of the dairy, told state police that Hughes was interested in buying the business and that Cappiello was interested in selling, Tuffey said. But before that could happen, Hughes allegedly said he needed to perform a risk assessment analysis.
Cappiello fronted the $5,000 for the study, but the study was never done and Hughes’ stories ultimately fell apart, leading to this week’s arrest, Tuffey said.
“There was no evidence that showed he was actually going to buy the place,” Tuffey said.
Cappiello wrote the check in February 2009, then realized something was wrong by March 27, going to the state police barracks in Princetown to report the incident.
As recently as November, Hughes still claimed to be attempting to purchase the business with a group of investors. But, when interviewed, the purported investors claimed no involvement, Tuffey said.
State police investigators also worked to subpoena records for Hughes’ alleged group in Syracuse. They found no evidence that the group existed.
Peter Cappiello could not be reached for comment Tuesday. A woman at Cappiello’s dairy said he was unavailable.
Cappiello Dairy Products, on Van Guysling Avenue, bills itself as a family owned and operated business.
In the 1950s, it had a handfull of workers. By 2001, 40 people were employed there, making approximately 20,000 pounds of ricotta and 6,000 pounds of mozzarella every day.
Hughes has a history of other scams targeting businesses in other states, Tuffey said. She cited businesses in Wisconsin and Colorado as falling victim to Hughes. Another Schenectady business also reported being contacted by Hughes, but nothing came of it.
Hughes remained at the Schenectady County Jail Tuesday afternoon on $2,500 bail.