June 16, 2024

andrea harrington at press conference (copy)

Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington announced that Fred Lewis Senter Jr. stands accused of defrauding over 40 victims across five states for a total exceeding $400,000. He currently faces a staggering 48 charges linked to this purported scheme.

EAGLE FILE PHOTO

PITTSFIELD — A Pittsfield resident, currently in custody for allegedly defrauding people in the Berkshires and five other states through a construction fraud scheme, now faces 48 charges.

Fred Lewis Senter Jr., 40, is accused of absconding with funds exceeding $400,000 through deceitful means, as per an official statement from Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington’s Office. According to the allegations, the fraud took place between February 2020 and September 2021, via his company, Northern Steel Buildings & Structures LLC.

He said he would build these Berkshire residents a steel garage. They are out more, and he's jailed on larceny charges.

“Senter is held to account for accepting contracts and payments from over 40 victims spread across five states to construct steel buildings, all while having no intention of completing the projects, “ claimed Harrington through a Facebook post. She also drew attention to the initial investigations against Senter by the Pittsfield Police which led to his arrest, and subsequent investigations by state police detectives from her office.

Richmond Fire Association reportedly lost $52,967.50 as a deposit for a new steel building with Senter. Although he supplied the blueprints and trusses for the project, he allegedly neither finished the job nor refunded the advance.

Harrington urged any other potential victims to get in touch with local or state police detectives linked to her office.

Courtney Soto, a Pittsfield local, complains that the backyard garage Senter had agreed to replace with steel is still in disrepair.

She expressed her disappointment at the unlikely chance of recovering her investment of more than $9,000. Furthermore, she highlighted ongoing investigations into Senter’s close accomplices who were allegedly given the stolen finances and could be using it to purchase luxury items.

Courtney Soto

According to Courtney Soto, her intention was to replace her current garage with a steel structure constructed by Senter. “Initially, he seemed very genuine, discussing our and his own family with us,” she recounted.

HEATHER BELLOW — THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE

Senter’s alleged victims are spread across Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, and include individuals, businesses, and even a church.

Four victims from Berkshire first approached The Eagle in September, recounting their experiences with Senter. They spoke of his persuasive demeanor, strong eye contact, and charisma, which lulled them into handing over 50 percent deposits for work never executed. Senter reportedly blamed supply chain disruptions due to the pandemic for his delays.

The victims reportedly banded together on a chat group with others alleging being swindled by Senter, leading to his arrest on September 16. His bail had already been revoked due to an open case at Central Berkshire District Court where he was already on probation.

Senter’s criminal history traces back to his home state of North Carolina, where he was accused of stealing sheet metal from TNT Carports and Metal on Industrial Drive in 2018. In 2019, he was arraigned in Pittsfield once again as a fugitive without a justice warrant, following grand larceny charges in Columbia County, N.Y. However, these charges were eventually dismissed.

Senter’s company was legally dissolved on June 30, 2021.

In Berkshire Superior Court, he pleaded not guilty to 30 counts of larceny over $1,200; 12 counts of larceny over $1,200 from a person over 60 years old; four counts of larceny under $1,200; along with indivudal counts of operating as an unlicensed home improvement contractor and common and notorious thief.

Judge Maureen Hogan ruled that he be held on bail set at $25,000.

This story was edited to correct the name of the Richmond-based organization that was also reportedly a victim.