First Alert Investigation: De Pere company being investigated by FBI for fraud, banking violations received PPP funds
DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - Action 2 News has learned a company still under FBI investigation for wire fraud and banking violations received money from the federal government to help it survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
That business is Summit Contracting Inc., based in De Pere.
In a First Alert Investigation nearly a year ago, we began uncovering consumer complaints and investigations concerning possible contractor fraud related to that company.
The FBI launched a wire fraud and banking violations probe in June of 2019.
In February of this year, Summit Contracting agreed to a civil injunction in federal court, saying it would not continue its financing practices.
While the FBI investigation is still underway, no charges have been filed against the company.
Summit’s lawyer tells us the company is still in business and used the loan from the taxpayer-funded Paycheck Protection Program to keep employees and hire more who were let go before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Data released by the Small Business Administration indicates Summit Contracting Inc. received between $150,000 and $350,000 through a PPP loan.
The exact amount isn’t given in the data, and Summit’s lawyer wouldn’t disclose it to us.
The contracting company is listed in SBA data as being female-owned, but Summit attorney Brandon O’Bryon told us by phone he thinks that’s a clerical error and that Chad Schampers is still running Summit, but in a scaled-back version.
O’Bryon says the business no longer does high-volume roofing work, but instead works on low-key remodeling jobs.
SBA records show Summit was approved for the PPP loan April 10th.
Nine days earlier, on April 1st, Summit responded to a consumer complaint on the Better Business Bureau’s website, writing the company “is now out of business” and “closed.”
The BBB tells us it’s received 81 consumer inquiries about Summit in the last 30 days.
In about that same amount of time, we’ve received several calls and emails from viewers, asking about the status of the FBI investigation and whether, as former customers, they have to pay a financing company for roofing work they say was never completed.
That was the basis for the civil injunction filed in federal court where prosecutors said Summit was conducting what it called ‘a fraudulent scheme,’ misrepresenting the terms of financing, making false statements that work was complete, and then withdrawing payment without the customer’s knowledge.
Summit agreed not to conduct that kind of business in February, and the civil case closed.
A criminal investigation is still open.
“The FBI recently sent me this letter to reassure me that we are definitely in an active case,” Mary Klimczyk told Action 2 News.
She showed us the letter she received from the FBI in mid-July, stating, “a criminal investigation can be a lengthy undertaking, and, for several reasons, we cannot tell you about its progress at this time.”
Klimczyk showed us the mess at her vacation rental last year after she says Summit started, but never finished replacing her roof.
Paperwork she gave investigators shows the financing company paid Summit in-full for the work, and now that financing company is calling Klimczyk, saying she needs to pay up.
“We’re going to hold you responsible for this loan. I said, your loan is fraud. And I said, I’m not paying you another dime until I hear differently from the federal government,” explains Klimczyk about her phone calls with that financing company.
She’s irritated to find out Summit received more than $100,000 in a loan from the federal government.
“I thought that was the craziest, insane thing I’ve ever heard,” she says. “I, myself, as a small business, I couldn’t even get that loan and I’ve been in business for 30 years. I was just shocked when you told me that.”
We read the fine print for the PPP loans, which states businesses cannot get a loan if they’re engaged in activity that is illegal, or if the owner is formally charged, indicted or incarcerated.
It does not, however, say anything about open investigations National SBA lender, ReadyCap, which, in a press release, says it approved in excess of $2 billion in PPP loans, is listed as Summit’s lender.
The SBA data indicates the loan would preserve 15 jobs.
Summit’s attorney says the contracting company is using the loan to maintain core employees and hire back some who were let go before the pandemic, but adds the company understands the loans can only be forgiven if it’s well documented that the money was used to keep the business operating during the pandemic.
O’Bryon, Summit’s attorney, tells us if customers have concerns about prior projects with Summit they can call him about them.
The FBI is still accepting information from anyone who wants to tell investigators about their experience Summit Contracting.
Click here to submit information to investigators.
Copyright 2020 WBAY. All rights reserved.