Man tied to New York roof repair scams busted again in Berkeley

Terry McDonagh failed to appear in court after being released on his own recognizance. He is now wanted on a bench warrant, police said.

Man tied to New York roof repair scams busted again in Berkeley
Terry McDonagh has been linked to roof repair scams in California and New York. Nassau County PD

A man facing serious charges related to roof repair scams in New York is now facing similar charges in Alameda County, according to court papers.

Terry McDonagh had been released from custody on electronic monitoring in February after being charged with crimes in New York, police wrote.

In March, he turned up in Berkeley and police began investigating him in connection with multiple crime reports here.

In the weeks that followed, McDonagh was charged with three new felonies in Alameda County.

Superior Court Judge Elena Condes subsequently released him on his own recognizance, according to court papers.

McDonagh, 29, then failed to appear in court, resulting in an active bench warrant for his arrest, authorities said.

Terry McDonagh. BPD

Berkeley police began looking into McDonagh after getting a report of a suspicious person who showed up in the 1300 block of Talbot Avenue on March 9 and asked a resident about his 77-year-old neighbor.

The stranger claimed he was there to replace the older man's gutter system, then loitered on the block for 45 minutes, police wrote.

The resident called his neighbor to ask if he had any gutter work planned and the man said he did not.

That same day, a community member took a picture of McDonagh and his truck and turned it over to police, authorities said.

Berkeley police identified several victims

On March 15, Berkeley police tracked down McDonagh at a hotel in Emeryville and arrested him on suspicion of grand theft and financial elder abuse, BPD wrote.

McDonagh, who has a UK passport, told police he had only been in the US for about six weeks, police wrote. He said he was seeking asylum in America, according to BPD.

Investigators discovered through a records check that McDonagh had been arrested in New York in January, BPD wrote, but McDonagh refused to say anything about that case.

Berkeley police later found paperwork indicating that McDonagh had "entered the US illegally and was detained."

As they worked on the case, BPD detectives identified two other possible victims in Alameda County in addition to the man on Talbot Avenue: a 70-year-old San Leandro man and an 85-year-old man in Pinole, according to charging papers.

The San Leandro man told police that McDonagh had approached him at home unannounced and told him his roof was damaged.

McDonagh had also "removed a portion of the roof" and told the man it would cost $20,000 to repair the damage, BPD said.

When the man told McDonagh he could not afford the work, McDonagh reduced the price to $10,000, police wrote in charging papers.

The man gave McDonagh $1,000 for materials, but later called him to say he had changed his mind about the work, police wrote.

"McDonagh told the victim the materials were already purchased and he owed McDonagh $4,400," police wrote. "The victim's roof was left in disrepair."

The Pinole man paid McDonagh $4,300 after he claimed to work for a home improvement company, Berkeley police wrote.

On March 18, the Alameda County DA's office charged McDonagh with grand theft, theft from an elder adult and vandalism of a roof, which are all felonies, and contracting without a license, which is listed as a misdemeanor, according to court papers.

In a hearing the next day, when Judge Condes released him on his own recognizance (OR), she also ordered him to "obey all laws and be of good conduct" and appear for a plea hearing March 26.

During that hearing, Condes also included a specific release condition for McDonagh, adding: "Do not engage in home repairs."

Alameda County prosecutor John Pricco did not object to the OR release, according to court papers.

Terry McDonagh also has criminal charges in NY

Earlier this year, McDonagh was arrested while fleeing the scene of a roof scam report on Long Island, the Nassau County Police Department announced in early February. 

On Feb. 5, Nassau County detectives had gotten a report about several men who had notified an 82-year-old Long Island resident that his roof was leaking. 

When the resident went out to see the damage, one of the men put a ladder against the house and climbed up on the roof, police wrote.

"While on the roof, the male showed the victim a piece of wood. A third subject went inside the home with the victim and inspected a hole in the ceiling sheetrock which he claimed was caused due to the damaged roof. At this time, the third subject requested a certified check for $20,000 to repair the roof," police wrote.

The homeowner asked the men to come back later. When they left, he called Nassau County police. 

Detectives were looking into that first report when a call came in about several men with the same description who had knocked on a woman's door claiming to work for the local water district. 

The men had told the woman she "had a damaged roof and they could repair it," Nassau County police wrote. 

The woman turned them down and the men drove off in a gold-colored SUV, according to police.

Detectives responded to the area and saw a gold Toyota Highlander with a ladder on it, police wrote.

When they tried to pull over the driver, he fled, ultimately crashing in the area. Four people jumped out of the SUV and ran off. 

Detectives found McDonagh in the area and arrested him, police wrote. The other men escaped.

McDonagh was charged with two counts each of criminal mischief and attempted grand larceny, authorities wrote. He was scheduled for arraignment Feb. 6.

McDonagh later "pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on bail with an electronic motoring device," the Sunday World, an Irish newspaper, reported.

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