Former Fireplace City owner guilty of theft
- Sam Weston owned and ran Fireplace City in Hellam Township for 20 years.
- He has either completed work or repaid all of the customers to whom he owed money, officials said.
The owner of a now-closed Hellam Township fireplace business has pleaded guilty to stealing from customers.
A number of felonies against Samuel Weston were dismissed Thursday when he pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree misdemeanor theft by failure to make required disposition, according to court records.
Weston owned the former Fireplace City in the 5800 block of Lincoln Highway East (Route 462) in Hellam Township.
The dropped charges include making false statements to induce agreements for home-improvement services, misrepresenting or concealing contractor identifying information, receiving advance payment for services and failing to perform them, deceptive business practices and theft by deception, records state.
As part of a negotiated plea agreement, Weston, 63, of York Township, was sentenced to a year of probation.
Customers repaid: Kyle King, spokesman for the York County District Attorney's Office, said 27 victims were listed in the case and no restitution was ordered because Weston had already repaid what he owed them.
Defense attorney Robert Schefter said his client, with help from his son and friends, either completed the work owed customers or refunded them in full — many of them prior to charges being filed.
"Sam Weston successfully operated Fireplace City for 20 years," the attorney said. "He was not a fly-by-night contractor intentionally out there to hurt anyone."
Bankruptcy: But Weston encountered some difficulties that eventually led him into bankruptcy, according to Schefter.
Even at that point, Weston told bankruptcy officials he intended to repay his customers, the attorney said.
"Sam is one of the nicest and most sincere gentlemen you would ever want to meet," Schefter said.
King, the DA's office spokesman, said the court received a number of character-reference letters on Weston's behalf.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.