SALEM – A man convicted of cheating on elderly former owners of Hamilton’s Canter Brook Equestrian Center is urging a judge to limit his monthly refund payments to just $ 100.
If a judge upholds the motion, the man will avoid paying almost all but a tiny fraction of the $ 100,000 reimbursement ordered in the case following his 2017 trial.
Jerry Dawson, also known as Jeffrey Haywood, is about halfway through a five-year suspended sentence after serving a 3 1/2 to 4 year prison sentence for theft, forgery, and commentary. The conditions were that he repaid the Virginia couple part of the money that he either took directly from them, claiming that they were needed for the maintenance of the equestrian center, or had borrowed them in their name.
Dawson’s attorney James McKenna told Judge James Lang on Friday that his client was ejecting a hand-to-mouth life, serving as a youth hockey referee and collecting $ 780 a month in Social Security disability income for back and knee problems.
But the prosecutors don’t believe that – they even go so far as to have Dawson monitored by state police investigators for two months from March to May. The surveillance revealed, according to a soldier, that Dawson does not live at the address he gave to a probation officer.
Prosecutor Marina Moriarty said she was not convinced that Dawson, who is believed to be 54 years old, is reporting on his true financial position. She asked if, given his active schedule as a referee, “quite an intense activity”, he should get social security. Soldiers also followed Dawson on daily outings to Dunkin ‘Donuts and a gym, she said.
“He’s clearly not severely disabled,” suggested Moriarty.
Soldiers also discovered that Dawson drives a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee registered in the name of a former Stoneham friend with whom he has children. Payments for the vehicle are more than $ 460 a month, money Dawson later said he sent the woman through the Venmo digital payment app. Apparently he also pays this woman $ 550 a month in rent.
Troopers also found that while Dawson claims to live at this woman’s address in Stoneham, he actually lives with a woman in Woburn to whom he is now engaged. When they spoke to the woman, she told them she was living with Jeffrey Haywood, the soldier testified.
Dawson later told the judge that he usually leaves this woman’s house around midnight and drives back to his ex-girlfriend’s house in Stoneham, where he parks in the garage.
When questioned, Dawson said the vehicle is in his ex-girlfriend’s name because his credit was shot after he was released from prison. His daughter made up the down payment, he said to Lang, and the payments were originally over $ 500 a month by the time she refinanced it.
Later in the hearing, Moriarty asked Dawson about a ring he had given the Woburn woman. It cost $ 3,000. Dawson told the prosecutor that he wrote it on his credit card.
The prosecutor also asked about the proceeds from the sale of a home that Dawson owned in North Carolina that was sold after he was released from prison. Dawson told her that “most” of the proceeds went to his mother. But he also said there was no equity in the property.
A probation officer who oversees Dawson said she was unable to verify all of the information Dawson provided regarding child maintenance payments and disability income. When she inquired with the Treasury Department, the Department of Transitional Assistance and the Social Security Agency, they did not show any records of him under the information provided.
McKenna told the judge he would get evidence of these expenses and income. Lang gave him two weeks and said he would wait until he received this information to make a decision.
The episode is another example of the ramifications of a Supreme Court ruling, Commonwealth vs. Henry, a case involving a Salem Walmart employee who couldn’t afford reimbursement payments to the retailer after she was caught like her Charging items for their church friends without them.
The court concluded that judges cannot order a defendant to pay more than he can afford and cannot extend probation if a person has not paid the full amount by the end of their term of office.
Lang admitted during Friday’s hearing that he may have been wrong after the decision to put Dawson on a five-year probationary period, two years longer than usual.
Court reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, email [email protected], or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.
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