Father-son team accused of running tractor sale scam arrested in Laconia

CIRCUIT COURT — A father and son who allegedly scammed three people out of some money by offering them a non-existant four-wheel tractor with front-end loader attached for a low price are being held on $25,000 cash bail after being caught in the act by the Laconia police.

Joseph Bavis Sr., 47, of 14 Leisure Lane in Belmont and Joseph Bavis Jr. of 222 Hammond Hill Road in Bridgewater are both charged with three counts of theft by deception for enticing three separate victims to pay them a varying amount of money — usually between $450 and $580 – to buy the machine.

The men allegedly met their targets in a downtown parking lot to exchange cash for a fraudulent bill of sale and with a false vehicle identification number (VIN).

The men would allegedly arrange for delivery later in the day, telling the victim that they had to pay off the storage fees before the tractor could be delivered.

Affidavits obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division said that on October 13, one the victims reported the theft to the Laconia police. Later in the day, a detective called the cell phone number given to him by the victim and left a message saying he would be interested in buying some lawn equipment and had been recommended to someone named "Clif" at this number.

The next day, "Clif" called back and the detective said he was interested in the tractor he had for sale.

After a series of phone calls, the two agreed to meet at 7:45 p.m. Thursday at a business location on Parade Road. The detective brought $780 and made the exchange.

Uniformed police arrived and they learned "Clif" was Joseph Bavis Sr.

Police also interviewed Bavis Jr. who told them he had provided transportation to the rendezvous for his father. He was taken in to custody and gave police permission to search his truck.

Two uniformed police officers searched the truck and found a burnt spoon and three syringes. One of the syringes was loaded with a liquid substance.

Affidavits said Bavis Sr. said it wasn't his because he preferred to smoke his heroin and admitted the aluminum foil found in the truck with a broken, melted pen was his.

Bavis Jr. allegedly admitted to being a heroin addict who injects his heroin.

Police say they found a copy of a bill of sale for a 2009 CAT tractor but determined the VIN was false.

During the interview with Bavis Jr., police said that he admitted he and his father had perpetrated this scam in at least seven places including Rumney, Campton, Tilton, Holderness, Bridgewater, Conway, and Danbury.

Bavis Sr. allegedly admitted to operating in the same communities as his son. He said he sent his son to collect the money because he thought there would be warrants out for his arrest by now.

Affidavits said both men admitted to being heavy heroin users who have been staying at a motel in Conway.

Bavis Jr. said he was currently homeless and living out of his truck or in hotels with his father. He also has a Pennsylvania drivers license. Bavis Sr. told police he was kicked out of his house and staying in motels. Affidavits said both told police they were unable to work because of their drug usage.

Bavis Jr. is also charged with one count of conspiracy to committee theft and one count of possession of narcotics. Bavis Sr. is charged with an additional count of theft for taking the money from the Laconia Police and one count of possession of drugs.

Each is being held on $25,000 cash only bail.