RIDGWAY — A Ridgway business owner who has been charged with four felonies waived his preliminary hearing at Magisterial District Judge James Martin’s office Wednesday.
Jeffrey Thomas Schatz, 48, of Ridgway, is charged with deceptive or fraudulent business practices, receiving advance payment for services and failing to perform them, theft by deception by false impression and theft by deception, failing to correct, all felonies in the third degree, according to a criminal complaint filed at Martin’s office Aug. 17.
According to Ridgway State Police, a man hired Schatz, owner of “Schatz Hometown Masonry,” to build a garage on German Settlement Road in Ridgway. The man and Schatz allegedly agreed on an estimate, and reoccurring payments, until the project was finished. Schatz also reportedly told the victim he would work on the project until completion.
Schatz reportedly began the garage project in October 2018 and worked on it until January 2019, according to the affidavit of probable cause. From the week of New Years until June 2019, Schatz did not work on the project.
From October through December 2018, the victim paid $99,500 for the garage work, including a credit he reportedly loaned to Schatz for materials. Police held a meeting at the victim’s residence, where they reportedly witnessed Schatz tell the man he would finish the project, and would draft a written contract with a start and end date and send it to him via email, according to the affidavit of probable cause.
Schatz reportedly emailed the victim a contract Oct. 2, 2019, stating the project would be finished Jan. 15, 2020. Schatz has not worked on the man’s garage since Jan. 16, 2020, according to the affidavit of probable cause. The victim’s garage has also allegedly sustained substantial damage from being exposed to outside elements for so long.
During an interview with police July 20, 2020, Schatz allegedly admitted to spending $54,637.28 on the project, spending the rest of the victim’s money on “living expenses” and “everyday expenses and different bills,” according to the affidavit of probable cause. Schatz reportedly agreed that he owes the victim $57,000.
Unsecured bail was set at $25,000. Schatz will be formally arraigned at the Elk County Court of Common Pleas Nov. 2.