TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - Summitwood Works, a Hillsborough roofing contractor owned by Neal Scoppettuolo we’ve been investigating for months, has been suspended from the government-sanctioned PACE financing program by its lender, the Ygrene Energy Fund, for deceptive business practices.
“Bottom line is we want our future customers feeling comfortable,” said Ygrene spokesman Joaquin McPeek. “It’s concerning anytime you hear consumers are mislead, deceived or taken advantage of.”
The PACE program that Ygrene helps finance is a government-sanctioned plan that allows homeowners with bad credit or little money to afford energy-efficient home renovations. The bill then appears on their taxes as a special assessment over a number of years. The cost can easily double or triple the tax bill and possibly force some homeowners into foreclosure if they are not prepared to pay the annual cost.
The Ygrene suspension also applies to Crestlake Services, an A/C company also owned by Scoppettuolo that uses similar deceptive advertising to lure customers.
Ygrene suspended Scoppettuolo following a number of 8 On Your Side investigative reports detailing his deceptive business practices.
“They should not be doing any work under any PACE provider in the State of Florida,” said Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano.
He was the first to flag Summitwood’s official-looking fliers that falsely told homeowners their roofs were damaged and defective when in fact they were just fine.
“They're going after, unfortunately, unsuspecting people who don’t have the resources or the financing ability to put a new roof on,” Fasano said.
After Fasano took action in April to ban Summitwood from performing PACE-financed roof jobs in Pasco County, Scoppettuolo simply moved across the county line and resumed his deceptive ad campaign in Hillsborough County.
“That’s not surprising because that’s what crooks do, but what’s surprising is that Hillsborough County didn't take action more immediately,” Fasano said.
In early June, Hillsborough consumer watchdogs pressured Scoppettuolo into signing an agreement to stop false advertising and giving the appearance he was representing a government agency.
“Bottom line, this is not okay in Hillsborough County, no, and I doubt it would be okay anywhere else,” said Hillsborough Consumer Protection Division Chief Eric Olsen.
Our investigation also revealed that Scoppettuolo has hired two notorious swindlers as sales and marketing consultants.
Frank Pureber and Carlton Dunko went to prison two years ago due to a previous 8 On Year Side investigation for cheating 100 homeowners out of more than $631,000 when they operated NBRC Construction. They’re now on probation.
Scoppettuolo now shares a luxury home in Cheval with Dunko, the kingpin of that previous scam, but insists neither Dunko nor Pureber are directly involved in his roofing business.
In addition to his problem with PACE lenders, Scoppettuolo is also in debt to a shingle company for failing to pay for supplies used on 17 of his roofing projects in Collier, Hillsborough and Pasco counties.
Scoppettuolo didn’t respond to calls for comment on this story but has previously defended his business practices as legitimate and called Pureber and Dunko “Godly men.”