Oil City Man Jailed on Fraud, Robbery, Illegal Gun Possession Charges

| November 24, 2020

CORNPLANTER TWP., Pa. (EYT) – An Oil City man is behind bars on charges related to alleged fraud, robbery, and illegal possession of firearms.

Court documents indicate 50-year-old Walter Thomas Mann was arraigned in front of Magisterial District Judge Andrew F. Fish on Monday, November 23, on the following charges:

– Receives Advance Payment For Services and Fails to Perform, Felony 3
– Receives Advance Payment For Services and Fails to Perform, Misdemeanor 1 (two counts)
– Deceptive Business Practice – Sale Less Than Quantity, Misdemeanor 1
– Theft by Deception-False Impression, Misdemeanor 1 (four counts)

His bail was set at $5,000.00 unsecured on this case.

He was also arraigned on the following charges on an additional case:

– Possession Of Firearm Prohibited, Felony 1
– Robbery-Commit Threat 1st/2nd Degree, Felony 1
– Robbery-Inflict Threat Imminent Bodily Injury, Felony 1
– Terroristic Threats With Intent To Terrorize, Felony 3
– Theft By Unlawful Taking-Movable Property, Misdemeanor 3 (10 counts)
– Possession of Controlled Substance, Misdemeanor
– Use/Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Misdemeanor

Unable to post $35,000.00 monetary bail, he was lodged in the Venango County Jail.

The charges stem from an investigation spurred by several reports of fraud and one report of robbery over the last five months.

Report from First Victim

According to a criminal complaint, on June 27, a known victim signed a contract with Walter Mann for Mann to remove a garage door and to purchase and install a new door at the victim’s residence in Cooperstown Borough, Venango County. The victim also signed a separate contract with Mann for Mann to trim a tree in the victim’s front yard.

The complaint states the contracts signed indicate the cost of the garage door project was $1,675.00, and the tree trimming was $250.00. The victim paid Mann $1,325.00 as a deposit on the garage door project on June 27, and Mann trimmed the tree as agreed.

According to the complaint, on June 28, the victim and Mann also entered into a third contract for Mann to trim more trees at another property owned by the victim in Sugarcreek Borough, Venango County. The victim then paid Mann an additional $600.00 deposit for this project, with a total cost estimate of $1,200.00.

However, the complaint states Mann then failed to trim the trees at the property as agreed.

The victim reported the failure to render services to the Franklin-based State Police on July 2, and police then spoke to Mann at his residence on July 3.

Mann allegedly stated unforeseen issues came up the prevented him from doing the work at the residence, and it was then agreed that Mann would finish the door project by July 7.

The complaint states the victim initially wanted to be reimbursed the $600.00 deposit for the second tree trimming project but then agreed to allow Mann to complete the project. Mann subsequently took down one tree at the property. However, the contract showed Mann agreed to take down two trees.

According to the complaint, Mann also failed to install the garage door at the residence. He was then contacted by police again on July 8, at which time he told police he was unable to finish because the garage door company sent him the wrong door. He also indicated that a storm came in and prevented him from completing the tree removal. He also admitted that the victim’s wife paid him the remaining balance of $350.00 for the garage door project.

Police then contacted Mann again on August 3, at which time Mann agreed to pay the victim back for the garage project. Mann provided police with $500.00 toward what he owed the victim for the incomplete work and said he would pay the remainder of the money back by September 7. However, according to the complaint, no further contact was made.

Report from Second Victim

According to the complaint, in June of 2020, a second known victim posted a message on Facebook looking for someone to install a chair lift in her home in Rouseville. The victim was then contacted by Mann, who stated he had installed a chair lift in the past.

The complaint states the victim paid Mann $200.00 upfront for the project and another $400.00 later.

The victim allegedly told police that Mann had been to her residence several times working on the project, but “he always found a reason to leave.” She reported he did install the stairway railing, but the remainder of the job was left incomplete. The victim also noted Mann still has a lock required for the motor to operate, and she has been unable to contact him.

Report from Third Victim

On July 1, Mann provided a third victim with a written estimate to “patch up (the) roof, put in trim around (the) trailer, run gutter around the trailer, and take down trees around the trailer” for the amount of $1,150.00.

According to the complaint, the victim paid Mann a $600.00 deposit to begin the project at her Sugarcreek Borough residence. She reported Mann was also supposed to seal the roof on her trailer, and they signed a contract on July 3. She told police Mann and people in his employ were to her home about ten times doing work, and she paid the remaining balance owed on July 7.

The victim reported Mann did take down the trees but didn’t take the wood as he agreed, and instead of installing gutters, Mann put a metal piece of trim around the trailer, and during the next rainfall, water came in from where the trim was put in place. The victim told police she called Mann about the issue, and he said he would be out with some tarps, but he never arrived. The victim also reported Mann only coated about half of her roof, and he dripped tar on the side of her trailer.

Report from Fourth Victim

According to the complaint, on August 26, a fourth victim hired Mann to do landscaping work around her yard in Cornplanter Township.

The complaint notes Mann told the victim his business was insured, and the victim signed a contract with Mann to “set up mulch bed in front of the house, plant tree, and flowers.” It was agreed the victim would pay Mann $350.00 and give him some “tools” to complete the project. The victim then gave Mann $250.00 as a deposit on August 26.

According to the complaint, after the initial deposit, the victim did not see or hear from Mann, so she went to his house. Mann then allegedly told the victim he needed more money to purchase materials (trees, flowers, shrubs, and fountains). The victim then gave Mann another $200.00 to purchase the items. The victim also reported she later gave Mann a third payment via check for $70.00.

The victim told police Mann did subsequently plant some flowers and spread approximately two bags of mulch, then placed three plastic tubs in her yard that were to be the fountains/decorative ponds. She reported he also put a hole in her garage wall while trying to kill a bee and sprayed the grass in her front yard, killing it. She told police she eventually ended up asking Mann to leave her property. She noted he did a poor job with the few things he did do and only completed about one-eighth of the project he agreed he would do.

The complaint notes that on all of the contracts Mann presented to the victims, it indicated “Countryside Tree Service” is “licensed and insured,” however, no Pennsylvania Attorney General number is listed as required in Title 73, Section 517.3, and police were able to confirm that neither Walter Mann nor “Countryside Tree Service” is a licensed contractor in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Robbery and Illegal Possession of Firearm

According to a second complaint, on November 23, Franklin-based State Police were dispatched to investigate a possible firearm violation in Cornplanter Township.

According to the complaint, it was reported that on November 18, Walter Mann slapped a known victim, then stole personal clothing off of the victim, including the victim’s shoes and coat.

Mann allegedly refused to allow the victim to retrieve his other personal items from a residence, then exhibited a firearm, removed the magazine, and took two bullets out of the magazine. Mann then placed the bullets in the victim’s hands, gave the bullets’ names, and told the victim those two named bullets were for him if he was to notify the police or the neighbors about the incident. Mann then allegedly escorted the victim from the residence, told the victim to run away, and followed the victim with two other men.

The complaint states that police found Mann is prohibited from possessing firearms for numerous reasons, including having a felony domestic violence conviction involving terroristic threats and threatening imminent death in New Jersey in 2005, being the subject of at least one active protection from abuse (PFA) order, and being a fugitive from justice due to multiple warrants from at least three different states.

According to the complaint, it was determined that Mann possessed or controlled at least two firearms, including a Key-Tec 9mm foldable long gun and at least one Smith and Wesson .40 caliber pistol.

On November 23, Franklin-based State Police executed a search warrant at Mann’s residence. The complaint states police then found Mann in possession of less than five grams of methamphetamine as well as a glass pipe and other drug paraphernalia.

Preliminary hearings for both cases are scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on December 2, with Judge Fish presiding.


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