“None of us are going away”: Victims of Summit Contracting reflect on federal charges filed against company
BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - This week has sparked a rollercoaster of emotions for dozens of people who say they were victimized by Summit Contracting, Inc.
The De Pere business has closed, but became the subject of an FBI investigation in 2019.
That same year, we began First Alert Investigations into Summit Contracting after customers asked us for help.
After three years of waiting, big developments finally started happening in the case February 1.
That’s when indictments were handed down in federal court involving wire and bank fraud charges against Summit’s owners, Chad Schampers, his wife, Gina Schampers, Nate Smith and lead salesman, Jeffrey O’Brien.
Federal prosecutors say Summit Contracting used ‘misleading, deceptive’ tactics to con customers out of more than one-and-a-half million dollars in 2018 and 2019.
“Just full of emotions. Tears of joy. I was afraid. I was thankful,” said Mary Klimczyk, a victim of Summit Contracting. “Words of relief. I’ve heard a million times... it’s about time.”
For Klimczyk, time has ticked by slowly the last three years.
Since about 2:30 Tuesday afternoon, it’s flown by.
“This has impacted so many people,” she said.
After Klimczyk first called us in 2019, asking us to help her get her money back for a roofing project she told us Summit Contracting never actually finished, others, with the same story, started calling her.
“The phone never, to this day, stopped ringing,” Klimczyk told us.
The more she heard, the more she was adamant that an investigation into criminal wrongdoing was needed and would lead to charges.
“For me, all along, this was a bigger scam than knowing Mary got defrauded. And from that time on, I wasn’t looking backwards,” she said.
Klimczyk contacted any investigator who would answer the phone and would not let it go.
Other victims, some too afraid to come forward to officials, began looking to Klimczyk for help and advice.
“Just hang in there was the biggest word I could ever say,” she recalled saying in so many conversations. “But that grows old after awhile.”
As time went on, she says victims were starting to give up, telling her their bank accounts were drained and homes were still in disrepair with no money -- or trust -- left for someone else to fix them.
“People have not been able to recover, recoup or fix their properties. They fell so depressed that... I was approached.. that they were filing bankruptcy,” she said. “They can’t even get loans to fix what was destroyed by Summit Contracting, so people are walking away from their homes with their hands tied.”
Article continues below the links
When news began spreading of indictments filed against Summit Contracting’s owners February 1st, Klimczyk said it felt like a weight had finally lifted.
“I couldn’t wait to tell the world,” she said.
Klimczyk penned an emotional letter, thanking all investigators who’ve worked on such a big case, but especially Sgt. Zak Holschbach at the Brown County Sheriff’s Office.
Klimczyk says he was the first one to listen to her and never stopped.
“Zak, you went above and beyond,” she said, reading from her letter, a tear in her eye. “We appreciate you. Thank you isn’t enough.”
Klimczyk also wrote a very direct message for those involved with Summit Contracting.
“This was driven by greed. You have destroyed the lives of many and have caused unrepairable harm to all. Shame on you,” she said firmly.
Victims are now focused on figuring how to get their money back and restore their credit.
Klimczyk says she’ll do all she can to get victims to attend.
“I’d be happy to rent a bus and pick up anybody that needs a ride,” she said.
As she reflected on three years of waiting for federal charges, she offered this statement to other victims. “I can only hope that all of you who’ve been affected, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. And none of us are going away.”
Copyright 2022 WBAY. All rights reserved.