“You think about it, it makes you sick to your stomach that human beings can prey on somebody else’s illness,” said the sister of the mechanic McAuliffe invested in.
Although the mechanic is listed in public court documents, the woman spoke on the condition that her name and that of her late brother not be used in this article to avoid upsetting relatives.
The woman said her brother had battled cancer of the head and neck for years. His insurance benefits from his mechanic’s job had been exhausted when Caramadre offered help in the form of cash.
“Medical bills, burial — if you even wanted to use it to buy a new car, they didn’t care,” the sister said.
Someone working for Caramadre went to the mechanic’s house in early November 2006, when he was confined to his bed, rising with assistance only to use the bathroom, the sister said. He signed some papers and got an envelope filled with cash, the sister said.
The amount was $5,000, the mechanic’s widow said in an affidavit. He died early that January.
The sister said the money seemed like a godsend until years later, when the FBI alerted the family to the scheme.
Although the sister was angry, the mechanic’s widow was not. She filed an affidavit on Caramadre’s behalf, saying he’d provided a “gift.”
“I suffered no damages or financial loss as a result of Mr. Caramadre’s investment program,” she said in the affidavit.
She even referred Caramadre to her father-in-law, an 81-year-old retired carpenter, who died about six months after his son. The sister said the family agreed to the second deal only because they did not understand what was going on.
“When you’re grasping at straws and overwhelmed by grief . . . you just don’t think straight,” the sister said.
“We all sat around the dining room table. . . . [Caramadre’s representative] went through his spiel with us. My father said, ‘This is just too good to be true. I don't get it.’ ”
Eventually, the carpenter signed the paper, and the man handed him a sealed envelope with cash inside.
“He said, ‘If you want, you can count it,’ ” she said. “And my father, being an old-time person, opened it up and counted it.”
There was about $10,000, she said.
There is no indication that McAuliffe was involved in the second deal. It is not clear how much he made on the first one with the mechanic.
His campaign said he invested $33,000 and received $80,000 back, netting $47,000. Federal prosecutors said in court documents that McAuliffe was given $113,000.
McAuliffe did not list the investment on financial disclosure forms filed with the state during his 2009 campaign, when the investment was still active. His campaign said that was on the advice of his attorney, Joseph Sandler, former staff counsel for the DNC.
The campaign declined to say why Sandler thought the omission was appropriate. Sandler said he could not provide his rationale without permission from McAuliffe.
Eddy Palanzo, Magda Jean-Louis and Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.