, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 11, 2014

W. Newbury man charged with scamming tenants


Chooljian was charged with larceny by check over $250 and eventually admitted to sufficient facts in court to the charge. As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, the case against him was continued without a finding until Dec. 22, 2014 by which time he was to reimburse the victim. When months went by without Chooljian paying the victim back, prosecutors threatened him with violating conditions of his probation.

Yesterday, a judge revoked Chooljian’s bail regarding the June plea, as well as a second incident in which he allegedly stole a $1,000 laptop computer from a tenant in January. Chooljian was ordered held on $2,000 cash bail for the most recent charges. He is scheduled for a jury trial in the January open case on April 2 and for a pretrial hearing in this recent case on the same date, according to an Essex County District Attorney spokeswoman.

According to police, Chooljian not only scammed multiple people via Craigslist, but he also asked tenants to pay him cash for rugs, paint and, in one case, a water heater for their rooms, only never to follow through.

“All their stories are the same,” West Newbury police Sgt. Jeffrey Durand said.

According to Durand, a family with small children had been living in the unheated “guest house” which was once a pool house, over the winter, violating the condemnation order of Health Agent Paul Sevigny.

“It’s just a mess — you wouldn’t let your dog live in there,” Durand said.

Sevigny did not respond to a phone call or an email, asking for more information on the house and why he had condemned it, in time for this report.

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