PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Several of his 100 fraud victims watched Friday morning as Carlton Dewayne Dunko pleaded guilty in a massive roofing and insurance scam first uncovered by an 8 On Your Side investigation two-and-a-half years ago. “He was a despicable low life scum,” said Pamela Beynon, whose roof is still leaking three years later. “I couldn’t be happier, other than getting a new roof.”
Sarah Fava had to live under a blue tarp for months after Dunko’s company flimflammed her. “We had to pay a lot out of pocket but we finally got our new roof on,” Fava said.
Joe Zigler did get a roof but faced threats of foreclosure because Dunko didn’t pay the company that supplied all of the shingles for his home. “I presume he’s not sorry,” Zigler said. “We know he’s lived like a millionaire for the last couple years.”
The Florida Statewide Prosecutor alleged that Dunko’s company, NBRC Construction LLC, bilked nearly 100 homeowners and material suppliers in a storm damage insurance scheme that stretched across six Tampa Bay area counties.
Dunko accepted the same consequences Friday that his former business partner and co-defendant, Frank Martin Pureber, received Tuesday in a Pinellas County courtroom – 21 months in prison, 10 years of probation and restitution amounting to about $632,000. Both men will get credit for serving more than 428 days in jail awaiting trial.
In court Friday Dunko promised the judge he would pay back his victims with “a minimum of $500 a month” when he gets out of prison and ends up on probation. At that rate, it would take 105 years to settle the debt.
Dunko and Pureber face additional criminal charges in Missouri for a similar scheme they carried out previously when they ran a company called American Shingle. Missouri prosecutors are reportedly seeking as much as 10 years in prison for the roofing insurance scam that Pureber and Dunko allegedly committed in the Kansas City Area.
The pair were under scrutiny in 11 states and collected as much as $65 million in sales while operating American Shingle. They shut down that Georgia-based company after their 2011 arrests in Macon for “theft by conversion.” Dunko and Pureber bonded out of the Macon jail and moved to Tampa and were soon back in business with their new company, NBRC. Georgia prosecutors eventually dropped the case.
American Shingle, and later NBRC, operated as storm chasers. Their sales staff solicited hundreds of homeowners for roof replacements they promised would be paid for by storm insurance. The companies collected checks from insurance claims and either failed to do the work or failed to pay contractors and suppliers for goods and services.
Dozens of unsuspecting homeowners around the Tampa Bay area ended up with liens on their property and faced foreclosure if they didn’t pay out of their own pockets for roofing work after NBRC kept the insurance claim checks. Dunko’s scheme was so elaborate he bribed several bank tellers to illegally deposit checks into NBRC accounts.
State agents ended up arresting eight people involved in the scam, including Stacy Dunko, Carlton’s wife. The company was incorporated under her name and Carlton hid his income by writing payroll checks to her. Her fraud charge is still pending, All seven other defendants have plead guilty or stated their intention to do so.
By the time detectives with the Florida insurance fraud unit arrested Pureber and Dunko in October 2014 they had moved to Connecticut and started yet another company called CTST Construction, that was engaged in the same business scheme. They arrested Dunko in the middle of a sales meeting.”On display was the same marketing material they used in Tampa Bay,” said state insurance fraud detective Carl Reschke.
Florida Statewide Prosecutor Diane Croff charged Pureber, Dunko and six other co-defendants – including Dunko’s wife Stacy – with organized fraud. Some of the defendants were bank employees Dunko and Pureber bribed to illegally deposit homeowners’ insurance checks into NBRC accounts.
Friday, Dunko’s long run as a high-rolling smooth-talking architect of illegal sales schemes drew to a close in courtroom 3 at the Pinellas Justice Center. As a bailiff rolled his fingers through black fingerprinting ink, Sarah Fava watched silently from the back row of the gallery. “I hope it was fun while it lasted because now he’s going to have it hard like a lot of the families he stole from,” Fava said.