Two people indicted in Summit Contracting federal fraud case ask to go on Caribbean vacation

Updated: Feb. 21, 2022 at 6:00 PM CST
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BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - One of the owners of Summit Contracting, Inc., along with his wife, who are both facing federal fraud charges, are asking a federal judge for permission to leave the country on vacation as their case works its way through the justice system.

Chad and Gina Schampers, along with Nate Smith and Jeffrey O’Brien, were all indicted February 1st on nearly a dozen wire and bank fraud charges after federal prosecutors say they misled customers of Summit Contracting, running a ‘fraud scheme’ to take more than $1.5 million dollars from dozens of victims.

Less than three weeks after that indictment came down from a grand jury, Action 2 News discovered Chad and Gina Schampers filed paperwork in Wisconsin’s Eastern District, asking for permission to take a pre-planned trip out of the country.

Prosecutors don’t appear to be happy about it, based on court documents.

In the motion, Chad Schampers is asking for modification to his bond.

Similar paperwork is filed for Gina Schampers, saying she, too, would like her passport and permission to leave the country if the judge grants the request for her husband.

After Chad and Gina Schampers appeared before a federal judge on 10 wire or bank fraud charges February 2nd, the court ordered them to surrender their passports and restricted their travel to the State of Wisconsin.

But in a motion obtained by Action 2 News, the Schampers are requesting permission to travel to St. Maarten, Netherland Antilles in the Caribbean March 13-17.

The paperwork says Schampers has minor children who will not be accompanying him on the trip and that he and his wife ‘would not abscond from justice, leaving their children behind.’

The motion states the trip was earned through Chad Schampers’ employment and paid for by his employer weeks before the indictment was filed.

They’re asking a judge for a temporary release of their passports and told the court if they don’t return to Wisconsin after March 17th, they will not contest any effort by any state to return them.

But the federal prosecutors working this case don’t seem to like the idea at all, writing they object to the thought of foreign travel, and are doing it with victims in mind.

The US Attorney’s Office filed a motion late Friday, saying that given potential penalties of the case, which exceed a maximum 200 years in prison for both Schampers, plus the government’s intent to get money back for victims, this ‘should give this Court great concern... to leave not just Wisconsin, but the United States of America.’

The motion continues to read ‘possession of a valid passport affords (Schampers) the ability to travel to any multitude of countries from his stated destination’ of the Caribbean island.

Prosecutors say the Crime Victim’s Rights Act comes into play in this request as well.

That Act ‘explicitly affords victims a right to be heard on issues relating to release... including travel.’

The motion from the US Attorney’s Office says investigators heard from more than 50 victims at a closed, victim-only meeting at the Brown County Sheriff’s Office February 9th, and prosecutors argue victims would be angry, writing, ‘it can be stated unequivocally that these victims vehemently oppose (the request) for the purpose of a vacation.’

If a judge grants the motion, prosecutors say they’ll request victims be given a chance to address the court.

Aside from leaving the country, there’s the issue at the center of all of this. That is money.

The victims want their money back, and prosecutors detail in their motion that they plan to vigorously pursue both restitution and asset forfeiture.

Documents read, ‘allowing (Schampers) to dissipate assets via a Caribbean vacation is an affront to both the alleged victims and taxpayers.’

That’s referring to the second case filed against Chad Schampers, including one count of money laundering and another count of wire fraud.

That’s the case we first told you about in 2020, when Summit Contracting applied for and was granted a PPP loan through the federal coronavirus relief program, receiving $292,500 from the Small Business Administration.

So far, a federal judge has not made a decision on the motion, but Action 2 News will update you when that happens.

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