Police bring 66 new charges against fraud defendant
Investigators say scheme involved dozens of victims in 8 states
BENNINGTON — Police have filed 66 new charges against a Shaftsbury man, which could see him facing close to 100 criminal counts in alleged fraudulent deals involving hay, maple syrup, farm equipment and collectible model cars.
Richard Blackmer Jr., 38, earlier pleaded not guilty to 30 charges: 18 felony counts of false pretenses greater than $900, two misdemeanor counts of false pretenses less than or equal to $900, as well as 10 misdemeanor counts of bad checks.
The charges are linked to accusations that he defrauded at least two dozen people in eight states from around 2013 till early this year.
Vermont State Police said Wednesday that their continuing investigation has uncovered more criminal activity by Blackmer. They've filed with the Bennington County State's Attorney's Office 45 additional counts of false pretenses, 20 new counts of bad checks and a count of identity theft, according to a release from Trooper Nicholas Grimes.
Grimes told the Banner these alleged transactions started before Blackmer's arrest in April, but that he continued communicating with some of the victims even after his arrest.
Blackmer is out of jail on a $10,000 secured appearance bond, according to Bennington Superior Court records. His conditions of release include not engaging in business dealings through social media or entering into any contract greater than $500 unless he has court approval.
The prosecutor's office said it will review the state police report and expects to file additional charges against Blackmer. When he would return to court to answer to the new charges was still unclear as of Wednesday, said Deputy State's Attorney Robert Plunkett, who is handling the case.
Investigators earlier said Blackmer's fraudulent activities involved picking up hay from local farms or grain stores and paying with bad checks. He supposedly would then turn around and find customers for the hay and deliver either samples or an initial load. Police said he would con the customers into purchasing additional deliveries, often offering "deals," and require them to pay up front. But Blackmer reportedly didn't deliver the hay after collecting payment.
Police said he used a similar method to defraud people of maple syrup, maple syrup equipment, farm equipment and collectible model cars.
State police are asking members of the public who believe they've had fraudulent interactions with Blackmer to call 802-442-5421 or email Grimes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Tiffany Tan at email@example.com or @tiffgtan on Facebook and Twitter.
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