PLAINS TOWNSHIP — The owner of Wyoming Homes, David Valenti of Moosic was charged with two counts of theft by deception.
Valenti turned himself in at a magistrate’s office in Plains Township
He first faced criminal charges six years ago in Wayne County, when customers said he took thousands in down payments and failed to deliver a modular home.
Those charges were dismissed, but prosecutors in Luzerne County charged him again after accusations of recent customers that are similar to the complaints of six years ago.
The investigation into Valenti continues, as other who have not talked with prosecutors yet say they too, are victims.
Jim and Nancy Crawford had planned to buy 10 acres in Susquehanna County.
In October, they put a $20,000 down payment on a modular home from Wyoming Homes and owner David Valenti.
“He said by Thanksgiving we`ll be in our home on the land,” said James Crawford.
But James Crawford says Valenti needed more paperwork, and when that was filled out, Valenti promised the couple they’d be out of their rental home in Tunkhannock and in a modular home soon.
“He said Christmas,” said James Crawford.
“It didn’t happen. New Year’s. It didn’t happen,” added Nancy.
“He said we`d have our home by valentines day, and it didn`t happen. I said right then, it was never going to happen,” said James.
The Crawfords aren`t alone.
In the last nine months, records show eight customers filed suit against Valenti seeking thousands in judgments.
Luzerne County prosecutors criminally charged Valenti with theft, as they claimed he ripped off two other customers including and 82-year old woman whose home in Fells Township in Lackawanna County was destroyed by a 2011 tropical storm.
Before he turned himself in, we spoke with Valenti.
“I`m absolutely worried,” said the owner of Wyoming Homes. “I`m going to try to do what`s right. And I`ll have to face whatever it is when I can.”
In 2008 Valenti was accused of taking money and failing to deliver two homes.
A judge in Wayne County dismissed the felony theft charges, after Valenti paid restitution.
But now Valenti admits he could end up behind bars.
“I was at the top, I`m at the bottom right now,” Valenti said.
“I want to see him in jail,” said Beth Rozelle of Fleetville in Lackawanna County.
Rozelle says she paid $44,000 in cash for a home Valenti said was never lived in.
But cracks in the siding, And a failed air conditioner raised questions. And discovered in 2011, her home was used by FEMA and hooked up in a park for flood victims near Montoursville.
Newswatch 16 used the home serial number to confirm, through FEMA that the home had been occupied.
“I feel like he has slapped us so hard, i just want to slap him and say, `what`s wrong with you?`,” said Rozelle.
James and Nancy Crawford feel the same way.
They couple says the man who was ready to sell them land in Susquehanna County grew tired of waiting, and sold the property to someone else, eight months after the Crawford’s made their down payment on the home
They want their money back, and Valenti’s receipt list the $20,000 deposit as “refundable.”
The Crawford’s have a copy of a check from Valenti they say was a partial payment on the refund.
“It`s wrecked my life, it has,” says James Crawford. “I just want to give up, but i`m not that kind of guy.”
When we spoke with Valenti, he said he hopes to make things right.
But it may be difficult for him to find the money.
Along with the new charges filed against him today, a bank is foreclosing his home in the Glenmaura section of Moosic. And his license to sell mobile homes was suspended by the state in April.