On December 8th, Judge Paul Damico, sitting judge in the 221st District Court of Montgomery County, sentenced New Caney mechanic Richard Earl Sisney to 10 years TDCJ for Aggregate Theft, pursuant to a plea agreement. The charges were based on thefts by Sisney due to car repair, restoration work, and sales to over 60 customers during a 30 year period from 1986 to 2015. The case(s) were investigated by the Montgomery County Auto Theft Task Force (ATTF), with assistance of the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office. The lead detective on the case was Alton Neeley with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department.
Sisney was arrested on a 2013 felony warrant which set forth various thefts from 22 separate customers. Following the execution of a search warrant on Sisney’s shop, located in New Caney, an additional 40 customers contacted ATTF to complain of Sisney’s business practices. Sisney initially posted bond, but the bond was set aside because of a customer who paid Sisney to restore his car, whibelongs. “ey was on bond. Although the customer paid Sisney in full upfront, the car was found at an upholstery shop, where the owner was waiting for Sisney to pay him to do the work. In November of 2015, former 9th District Judge Kelly Case released Sisney on a PR bond. Following Case’s resignation from the bench, the case(s) were transferred to Judge Lisa Michalk of the 221st District Court, who set the case for jury trial on October 31st, 2016. A few days before trial, Sisney pled guilty to the Aggregate Theft of over $200,000, for which he was sentenced to 10 years TDCJ, pursuant to plea agreement, on December 8th.
The 2013 felony complaint and warrant sets forth the scheme and course of conduct Sisney pursued to unlawfully appropriate money from customers during the 30 year period. Among the various ways in which Sisney would steal from customers included selling cars titled in other people’s names, promising to put engines and transmissions in vehicles that customers later found out were not put in the vehicles, and taking large sums of money upfront for vehicle restoration work that was never completed. In one case, a restoration customer who paid Sisney $37,000+ upfront found his vehicle at a shop in Crosby after Sisney refused to tell him where the vehicle was. The car was a complete shell. Sisney would also claim to do work on a car and would attempt to or would obtain a mechanic’s lien and title to the car after the customer balked on payment for work that Sisney never completed. In another case, Sisney obtained a mechanic’s lien and title on 2 cars that had been reported stolen approximately 7 years before. He restored one of the vehicles and sold it to a buyer in Australia for $75,000. As the car sat on a dock in Los Angeles, California, waiting to be shipped to Australia, the car was seized by law enforcement after ATTF put a hold on it due to the car being reported as stolen.
Sisney’s practice of stealing from customers would usually begin by “inducing” them to part with their money by promising to perform certain tasks on their vehicles. He would do this by holding himself out as a credible businessmanand mechanic who was capable of virtually any task in car repair. After the customers parted with their money, Sisney would then enter into the “delay and excuse” phase of his scheme. When customers would ask why the work on a vehicle hadn’t been done, Sisney would provide excuses such as “we had a snowstorm”, “Hurricane Ike came to town”, “I haven’t been feeling well”, “I have title to the car in a vault at my bank”, etc. The customer would eventually demand their money back, at which time Sisney entered the “confrontation” phase. During this phase, he would threaten them physically, or would tell them to go ahead and sue him because he had better lawyers. He would also tell various customers that he has powerful friends and friends in high places in Montgomery County. Some customers did successfully sue Sisney, but were unable to collect on their judgments, due in part to Sisney filing for bankruptcy protection, which he did on 3 separate occasions and due in part to find assets in Sisney’s possession to execute on to satisfy the judgment.
Chief Prosecutor Jim Prewitt: “Finally, justice was achieved for the countless number of victims ripped off by Richard Sisney. Sisney was the definition of a con man and cared nothing about fair and legal business practices or a genuine desire to do the right thing for his customers. We are glad to see him finally admit his wrongdoing and go to prison where he belongs