Chiaramontes Jailed on Charges of Bilking Tubbs Victims

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They were among a group of contractors who descended on Sonoma County in the weeks after the October 2017 Tubbs Fire, promising to rebuild the homes of fire victims.  Now Sal and Pam Chiaramonte of Tulare are facing charges in Sonoma County, accused of bilking dozens of Santa Rosa homeowners out of insurance settlements and savings on the promise of work that was never done.  See earlier NNB story here.

The husband and wife developers, former owners of Chiaramonte Construction and Plumbing, were booked into Sonoma County jail on Thursday, with bail set at $250 thousand each. They are accused by the county district attorney of signing dozens of contracts with burned out Coffey Park and Mark West homeowners in late 2017 and 2018, and then absconding with $2 million or more of their insurance settlements and homeowners’ funds.

The pair are each charged with 59 felony counts of grand theft and illegal diversion of construction funds.  Since half or more of the victims were elderly, the Chiaramonte’s were also charged with elder abuse, for allegedly defrauding and embezzling funds from elderly, dependent adults.

The Chiaramontes filed for bankruptcy protection three months ago and their construction firm was dissolved. Attorneys for victims say they will insist at a bail hearing on Tuesday that no funds obtained illegally be used to bail the pair out of jail.

Still unknown is what happened to the vast sums of money that fire victims paid the Chiaramontes for work that was never done, or never completed.  Prosecutors hope to get more information about those funds during the course of their trial.

A group of fire victims have also brought suit against the Chiaramonte’s in civil court, hoping to recoup some of their losses for work that was promised, but never done.

In all the Tubbs Fire destroyed more than 5 thousand homes in Sonoma County and claimed 22 lives.  The blaze, part of the October 2017 Firestorm, was the costliest and most deadly fire in state history until the 2018 Camp Fire roared through Paradise in the late fall of 2018.

 

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