Santa Rosa, CA – December 7, 2018 – Defendant William Edward Hail III, 44 years old of Petaluma, was convicted yesterday afternoon by a Sonoma County jury following a three week trial on five felony counts of committing theft from two elderly victims. The charges included one count of theft from an elder, two counts of diversion of construction funds, and one count of perjury. In addition, the jury found true an allegation that the loss exceeded $100,000.
District Attorney Ravitch stated, “We are pleased with that the jury held the defendant accountable. Elder theft continues to be a significant issue in our community, so we encourage anyone who suspects that an elderly family member or friend may be taken advantage of to contact law enforcement immediately.”
The charges resulted from an initial report made to the Petaluma Police Department in the spring of 2016 where the victims’ family members reported their concern that Hail was taking financial advantage of an elderly relative. The investigation revealed that in 2012, Hail, a licensed plumber, contracted with an 82 year old man for the installation of solar panels and a wind turbine at his Petaluma residence. The investigation further revealed that Hail contracted with an 83 year old woman, an acquaintance of the first victim, for similar work.
Hail entered into multiple subsequent contracts with each victim for additional work. In the end, each victim had paid Hail in excess of $325,000. In each case the victim had paid the full contract price before any work was completed. According to an industry expert at trial, the value of the work actually completed at one residence was $41,000, and $88,000 at the other. A forensic accounting was done on Hail’s bank accounts which revealed he was depositing the money into personal accounts and spending it on vacations, restoration of classic automobiles, entertainment, and other similar items. Hail is scheduled to be sentenced on January 30, 2019 by the Honorable Christopher Honigsberg. He faces a maximum potential sentence of seven years in local prison.
The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Carla Rodriguez, assisted by District Attorney Investigator Matthew Stapleton. Officer Tamara Gilman of the Petaluma Police Department headed the investigation along with Contractor’s State Licensing Board Investigator Caleb Cameron.