Steven Kaldeck sat inside a Middlesex Superior courtroom and quietly tried to process the sight of William Pusateri standing in handcuffs and listening to the allegations of a 23-count criminal indictment.
It had been nearly a year since Kaldeck had last seen the paving business owner at the kitchen table in his Natick home. At the time, Pusateri had promised to refund the $20,000 Kaldeck said he had paid him without any work being completed.
Kaldeck, who has autism, said he still hasn’t seen a dime.
“We thought he was a friend,” Kaldeck told the NBC10 Investigators outside court. “But he was just using us.”
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We shared Kaldeck’s story last year as part of our “To Catch a Contractor” investigation into Pusateri and his paving business.
Our reporting found customers all over the Boston area who said the contractor took thousands of dollars in deposits and disappeared without doing the work.
In Kaldeck’s case, he said Pusateri paved his family’s driveway in 2015. After that project, he said the contractor kept finding other things at the family’s modest ranch home that needed to be fixed.
Kaldeck had a feeling his elderly parents had paid the contractor a large sum of money without much return on their investment. But he now realizes it is much worse than he ever imagined.
A recent five-year review of his parents’ bank records—from 2015 up until their deaths in 2020--revealed this staggering sum: 264 checks written to Pusateri totaling nearly $803,000.
“I’m just devastated,” said Kaldeck, who shared the records with the NBC10 Investigators. “I can’t believe this guy took advantage of all of us for so long.”
Kaldeck said the Natick home is likely only worth half of the total amount paid to Pusateri. When we visited the home last year, there were no signs of any significant remodeling or upgrades.
However, the list of checks tell a different story: nearly $30,000 earmarked for gutters, $37,000 listed for termites and $58,000 for attic repairs.
Bank records show on January 31, 2020, Kaldeck’s father wrote six different $2,500 checks for gutter guards. By this time, Kaldeck said his dad had started to show signs of mental decline.
But the majority of the checks are a mystery because there is nothing written on the memo line, including a $35,000 amount in January 2018.
In court on Tuesday, assistant district attorney Mary O’Neill said prosecutors are aware of the new details and would be reviewing the financial records. Additional charges are possible, she added.
Pusateri pleaded not guilty and is being held on $25,000 bail. During the hearing, his public defender asked the clerk magistrate not to consider the alleged fraud involving Kaldeck’s parents since it is under investigation and not part of the charges.
Kaldeck is resigned to the fact that much of the money is likely long gone. He is hoping an attorney is willing to take his case and help him at least recoup some funds.
“He needs to go to prison for a long time,” Kaldeck said. “Not just what he did to me, but what he’s done to so many others.”