SAN FRANCISCO—On Monday, March 14, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office announced the recovery of over $300,000 in restitution to an elderly victim’s estate. During a 10-year period, William Harold Schwarz, a general contractor, stole money from the victim while working for her. Schwarz pleaded guilty to felony grand theft, was sentenced to two years felony probation, and ordered to pay the victim’s estate $332,777.26 in restitution for the theft he committed.

“Our elderly residents are often the most vulnerable to these crimes. Those who take advantage of our elders and prey upon their vulnerabilities will be held accountable,” said District Attorney Chesa Boudin. “We are pleased that we were able to get restitution for the victim after such an enormous betrayal.”

The SFDA’s Office indicated in a press release that Schwarz befriended the victim while working as a general contractor, completing small jobs. He was able to commit this theft because he spent many years developing a relationship of trust with the victim. After gaining the victim’s trust, Schwarz convinced her to pay him large sums of money for work on her home, work that he either failed to complete or for which he did a poor job. Written contracts for the work at the victim’s home showed that the defendant was also billing the victim multiple times for the same work and overcharging for the minimal work that was done on the property.

Family members and law enforcement were able to intervene on the victim’s behalf to prosecute the Schwarz. The prosecution of this case, by Assistant District Attorney Phoebe Maffei, was made possible by the advocacy of the victim’s cousin, who discovered the fraud. The San Francisco Police Department, the Contractors State Licensing Board, and ADA Maffei worked together to ensure that Schwarz was held responsible for his crimes.

In addition to the restitution and probation, Schwarz is required to pay fines and fees associated with his crime and is prohibited from working as a contractor during the period of his probation.