The man used the money to bet on the ponies.
MERCER, Pa. -- A common pleas judge has ordered a Sharon man to pay back the $576,000 he took from victims in several western Pennsylvania counties.
Judge Thomas R. Dobson also ordered Michael W. Klingensmith, 35, of Pearl Street, to serve 61/2 to 14 years in state prison on theft and forgery charges.
The case was prosecuted by the state attorney general's office, which claimed Klingensmith swindled the money from at least 16 individuals, most of whom were senior citizens, and spent it at the racetrack. The judge said Klingensmith has to repay his victims.
The state began investigating the case in 1996 based on a referral from James Epstein, Mercer County district attorney.
Klingensmith was sentenced in common pleas court last week.
Installed filtration systems
He had been hired by each of his victims to install water filtration systems in their homes, but after installing the systems, he charged the victims for costly repairs and replacement parts, the attorney general's office said.
He also persuaded some victims to lend him money for a hot-tub business he was starting.
Klingensmith spent the money at Ladbroke off-track betting parlors in western Pennsylvania and lost nearly $900,000 in 1999 and 2000, the attorney general's office added.
He pleaded guilty in June to 12 counts of theft by deception, seven counts of forgery, seven counts of deceptive business practices and two counts of securing the execution of documents by deception.