Lackawanna County Contractor Facing More Charges

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SCRANTON -- A contractor from Taylor accused of ripping off his customers was back in court today.

Detectives filed new charges against Joseph Senese saying the list of Senese's alleged victims is now three times longer.

Lackawanna County detectives arrested Joseph Senese last week. They accused him of taking money from eight clients for work he never did. Tuesday, detectives came to court with evidence of 14 more people who say Senese did the same thing to them.

Senese is now accused of stealing about $35,000 from 22 of his clients.

Florence Peresta of South Abington Township had big plans to renovate her house so her daughter could move in, plans she took out a loan for.

"She was going to sell her house, you know, and move up to Clarks Summit with me. But, everything backfired," Peresta said outside the Lackawanna County Courthouse Tuesday.

Peresta came to the courthouse for a preliminary hearing for the man she hired to do those renovations, Joseph Senese of Taylor, but the hearing never happened because county detectives filed more charges against Senese.

A total of 22 people have now come forward saying they were scammed by Senese.

One of them, Bernice Jett of Scranton. She had big plans, too. Vacation plans were ruined when Senese never showed up to renovate her camper she hoped to use for a Fourth of July vacation.

"We booked a vacation down at Ocean City, Maryland. We were supposed to take the kids down there and we had to cancel. We lost the vacation money. We were never able to go," Jett said.

Jett's case was still being investigated when she saw Senese on Newswatch 16 last week. She said she had no idea his alleged scheme was quite so big.

"I thought I was the only one, I had no idea there was that many people. It's kind of sad," Jett added.

Joseph Senese is locked up in the Lackawanna County Prison, a magistrate upped his bail Tuesday to $35,000.

Last week, a woman from Schuykill County told Newswatch 16 that she too was scammed by Senese. Lackawanna County detectives said they're looking into whether Senese may have more victims in other counties, too.