Retired teacher chides ex-pupil who conned him
A retired teacher from Uniontown lambasted a man he taught in elementary school, moments before the former student was sentenced for home improvement fraud on Monday.
William Furnier, 37, of Uniontown pleaded guilty in July to charges of theft, false statements and receiving advance payment for services he failed to perform in two criminal cases.
Victims from both families were in the courtroom when Senior Judge Gerald R. Solomon sentenced Furnier to serve two years' probation and to pay back more than $8,000 he took for home repairs that were never made.
Robert Rafail told the judge that Furnier was his student at the former Parks Elementary School in Uniontown.
Rafail hired Furnier, who operated a heating and air conditioning business, to do work at the home of his 90-year-old father, Elias Rafail.
According to an affidavit filed by Uniontown police, Rafail contacted the department in July 2012 because he had paid Furnier half an agreed-upon price up front for the work, but a starting date was repeatedly pushed back. Police found that Furnier's cellphone was no longer in service.
He was arrested when a warrant was issued one year ago.
On Monday, Rafail thanked Lori Stephenson of Uniontown, another former student who said she is Furnier's cousin. She said she filed a civil lawsuit against Furnier because he failed to complete a $2,000 heating job at her home.
“Because of her, I had the courage to participate in this criminal case against William, in spite of the embarrassment that this has caused me, in order to help prevent others from being pulled into his scheming and unlawful plan,” Rafail said.
Rafail said when he ran into Furnier in 2012 and learned of his business, he asked him to give him an estimate on work at his home.
“I placed my trust in you, just as I put my trust in you to serve as a student patrol when you were in my classroom,” Rafail said, reading from a prepared victim impact statement.
“If you recall, at the beginning of the school year, I stood before my students and explained the classroom rules and expectations of the year that was about to begin. Each year, I began by telling my students that they could remember the rules simply by thinking of the initials of my first and last names since both begin with the letter ‘R.' ... Those words were respect and responsibility,” he said.
“I believe that you followed those rules to a ‘T' and expected that you would carry them with you throughout your life. Unfortunately, after my experience with you as a contractor, I can't say that is true,” he said to Furnier.
“Somewhere along the way, you (strayed) from the values and behaviors that I thought you had. ... Your actions will be judged by everyone with whom you come into contact — the community, your friends, your family and your God — and me for the rest of your life,” Rafail said.
“I would like to say that I have forgiven you, but I haven't gotten that far yet. The $4,100 that you stole from me won't allow me to forget. I still can't understand why my 90-year-old father, who is now confined to a wheelchair after having suffered a stroke, has to endure the extremes of heat and cold in our house that could have been remedied if you had installed the heat pump, as promised ...,” Rafail said.
Rafail said he was more interested in restitution than a prison term for Furnier.
The probation term and restitution included the case of Joann Reckner of Lemont Furnace, who said she hired Furnier in January 2012 to install a furnace and air conditioning at her home.
She approached state police because a furnace was partially installed and work stopped, she said, after she had paid Furnier $4,500 in advance.
“We lost our life savings,” Reckner said.
Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Connellsville Area’s $4.8M budget gap raises specter of layoffs
- Connellsville Area School District rethinks grading
- Police in Fayette County seek witnesses to motorcycle accident
- Geranium Festival slated for May in Connellsville
- Connellsville Area Senior High School students work on mural in East Park
- Fayette County area graduates gather for Golden Reunion
- Change likely in Fayette County District Attorney’s Office
- Gulf War veteran restores Uniontown mansion
- Connellsville board set to tackle budget
- Fayette man challenges charges filed by Connellsville police officer, now under indictment
- Lineup set for Lions Club’s annual Kids Fest in Connellsville