DECATUR, Ga. - Dressed in an orange jump suit from the county jail, an Irish Traveler from Murphy Village sat quietly on a courtroom bench as his attorney entered a plea of not guilty to charges that his client defrauded elderly people in roof repair scams.
Patrick "Mug" Sherlock, 53, entered his plea in DeKalb County Superior Court on Wednesday before Judge Robert Mallis. He was represented by attorney Don Samuel of Atlanta at his arraignment.
A tentative trial date was set for the two-week criminal court term beginning August 5.
Prior to the Irish Traveler's plea of not guilty, Assistant District Attorney Marty First told the court that a grand jury had re-indicted Mr. Sherlock. The new indictment adds five charges of theft by deception to the previous charges of one count of racketeering, seven counts of theft by taking and one count of robbery.
However, Mr. First said the indictment didn't involve any new complaints of repair scams but added "alternative sentencing" options to the previous charges.
Mr. Sherlock has been held at the DeKalb County jail since his arrest on Feb. 12 in connection with an incident in which police say a 79-year-old Decatur woman was forced to withdraw $5,000 from her bank to pay for a phony roof repair done by Mr. Sherlock and three other men.
The latest indictment accuses Mr. Sherlock of defrauding two women in Fulton County as well as a husband and wife and six women in DeKalb County. Most were over 65 years of age, and the money paid for phony repairs ranged from $1,000 to $6,000, the indictment says.
The racketeering charge stems from an incident on May 24, 1993 in which an elderly woman says she paid $1,200 in a roof repair scam, according to the indictment. The prosecution says that scam together with the more recent incidents shows a "pattern of racketeering involving theft."
Following Mr. Sherlock's arrest, DeKalb police said they got 11 to 12 more complaints from elderly people from the Atlanta area who said they had been cheated out of money in similar phony deals.
DeKalb police are still searching for two Travelers from Murphy Village in connection with the scams, most done in November and December. Warrants were issued in February against John Anthony "Cornbread" Mack and Jimmy Anthony "Goose" Carroll. No arrests have been made.
However, DeKalb Detective Dave Kessler said no one is giving up the search. He visited Murphy Village as recently as last week, he said.
"We're going to send out a strong message ... that at least in Atlanta we're not going to put up with (scams)," the detective said.