Pasco County’s tax collector Mike Fasano has already had doubts about PACE, the government-approved home energy improvement program.
When we informed him that two notorious scammers were promoting the program for a local contractor, that was the last straw.
“PACE providers should be more concerned and wondering who they’ll be on their list,” said Fasano. “Unfortunately, if you keep working with people like you, there are people in Pasco County and across the state who will continue to get ripped off.”
PACE allows homeowners with bad credit to borrow money for energy-related home renovations and repay the debt as a lien on their tax bill. Failure to pay taxes along with the PACE debt can lead to foreclosure.
The case of Carlton Dunko and Frank Pureber worried Fasano. The two men were able to withdraw consumers in 11 states through roof repair insurance they operated under the American Shingle company.
The duo moved to Tampa and launched another fraud program using the same business model under the NBRC Construction banner.
It was around this time that we began investigations and found their victims in six counties.
Dunko and Pureber eventually pleaded guilty to organized fraud. They spent two years in prison and were ordered to repay nearly 100 victims $ 631,000 in restitution. The men are still being charged with fraud in Missouri and Connecticut.
Meanwhile, in Tampa, she works as a sales and marketing consultant for a group of PACE contractors run by Neal Scoppettuolo.
Dunko tells his probation officer that he makes up to $ 12,000 a month and lives in a luxury rental home in Cheval. It will take Dunko a century or more to pay off his debt at the rate at which he is paying back his victims.
Fasano was so concerned when we brought him up on Dunko and Pureber that he told PACE lenders to remove Scoppettuolo’s Summitwood Works LLC, which employed the convicted scammers, from their approved contractor list.
In other words, Fasano kicked Scoppettuolo’s company out of Pasco County for the PACE program.
“I can assure you that they did not leave willingly,” said Fasano.
Scoppettuolo said he knew he hired two convicted felons to help promote his business, but insists that he is a Christian who believes in forgiveness and second chances.
Fasano has now taken its PACE concern a step further and requires all PACE contractors to read and sign a disclosure form created by its office explaining all the pitfalls of the PACE program. This is a requirement that some contractors don’t like.
“It’s not because that’s telling the truth. That says it all, ”said Fasano. “The homeowner will read this, will sign it, the contractor will sign it, and the PACE provider will sign it and it will be submitted to both the real estate appraiser and the tax collector’s office.”