New Caney mechanic sentenced to 10 years in jail for aggregate theft charge

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HOUSTON – A New Caney mechanic was sentenced to 10 years in the Texas Department of Correctional Justice after accepting a plea agreement for aggregate theft charges from Montgomery County.

Richard Sisney was charged based on thefts by Sisney due to car repair, restoration work and sales to over 60 customers during a 30-year period from 1986 to 2015, according to court documents.

Court documents indicate that Sisney was arrested on a 2013 felony warrant that set forth various thefts from 22 separate customers.

Following the execution of a search warrant on Sisney's New Caney shop, an additional 40 customers contacted the Auto Theft Task Force to complain of Sisney's business practices, reports said.

Sisney initially posted bond, but the bond was set aside because of a customer who paid Sisney to restore his car, while Sisney was on bond, officials said.

Although the customer paid Sisney in full upfront, the car was found at an upholstery shop, where the owner was waiting for Sisney to pay him to do the work.

A 2013 felony complaint explained the schemes and course of conduct Sisney pursued to take money from customers during the 30-year period, police said.

The various ways in which Sisney stole from customers included selling cars titled in other people's names, promising to put engines and transmissions in vehicles that customers later found out were not put in the vehicles and taking large sums of money upfront for vehicle restoration work that was never completed, according to court documents.

In one case, a restoration customer who paid Sisney over $37,000 upfront found his vehicle at a shop in Crosby after Sisney refused to tell him where the vehicle was. The car was a complete shell, according to court documents.

Sisney would also claim to do work on a car and would then attempt to obtain or obtain a mechanic's lien and title to the car after the customer balked on payment for work that Sisney never completed, according to court reports.

In another case, Sisney obtained a mechanic's lien and title on two cars that had been reported stolen approximately seven years earlier. He restored one of the vehicles and sold it to a buyer in Australia for $75,000. As the car sat on a dock in Los Angeles, California, waiting to be shipped to Australia, it was seized by law enforcement after ATTF put a hold on it due to the car being reported as stolen, according to court documents.

Sisney's practice of stealing from customers would usually begin with him "inducing" them to part with their money by promising to perform certain tasks on their vehicles. He would do this by holding himself out as a credible businessman and mechanic who was capable of virtually any task in car repair, according to reports.

After the customers parted with their money, Sisney would then enter into the "delay and excuse" phase of his scheme. When customers would ask why the work on a vehicle hadn't been done, Sisney would provide excuses such as, "We had a snowstorm," "Hurricane Ike came to town," "I haven't been feeling well," "I have the title to the car in a vault at my bank," etc., reports said.

The customer would eventually demand his money back, at which time Sisney entered the "confrontation" phase. During this phase, he would threaten the customer physically, or would tell her to go ahead and sue him because he had better lawyers. He would also tell various customers that he had powerful friends and friends in high places in Montgomery County. Some customers did successfully sue Sisney, but were unable to collect on their judgments, due in part to Sisney filing for bankruptcy protection, which he did on three separate occasions, and due in part to the inability to find assets in Sisney's possession to execute on to satisfy the judgment, according to court documents.

"Finally, justice was achieved for the countless number of victims ripped off by Richard Sisney. Sisney was the definition of a con man and cared nothing about fair and legal business practices or a genuine desire to do the right thing for his customers," Chief Prosecutor Jim Prewitt said. "We are glad to see him finally admit his wrongdoing and go to prison where he belongs."