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First Alert Investigation: Judge says ‘no’ to Caribbean vacation for former Summit Contracting owners

The judge said allowing it gives the defendants an opportunity to not return to the U.S.
Updated: Mar. 8, 2022 at 6:01 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A federal judge has denied a request from two former Summit Contracting Inc. leaders who were asking for permission to take a Caribbean vacation as their federal fraud case moves through the court system.

As we first told you in February, Chad and Gina Schampers, Nate Smith and Jeffrey O’Brien all face more than 200 years behind bars and millions of dollars in fines after being indicted in federal court on nearly a dozen wire and bank fraud charges.

Prosecutors argue the four used the now-closed De Pere business, Summit Contracting, to con dozens of customers out of more than $1.5 million dollars using misleading, deceptive tactics.

It’s a case we’ve been following for years.

Only weeks after those indictments were handed down in federal court, Chad and Gina Schampers filed a motion, asking for permission to go on a pre-planned trip to St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles in the Caribbean in mid-March.

The federal judge presiding over the case has now filed his response to that motion, giving a handful of reasons for denying their attempt to leave the country.

As part of the conditions of release on all the fraud charges, Chad and Gina Schampers agreed in February to limit their travel to the State of Wisconsin and surrender their passports.

But a few weeks later, they asked the court to grant an exception, writing in motions that it was for a pre-planned trip, organized before the indictments were issued, and also told the court it was being paid for by Chad Schampers’ current employer, though no employer was named.

In that request, the couple promised they wouldn’t leave the Caribbean country of St. Maarten for another foreign land and vowed to return to Wisconsin on time.

Prosecutors opposed this idea from the start, pointing out Chad Schampers is charged in two cases, not only the wire and bank fraud associated with Summit Contracting, but also money laundering after prosecutors allege he spent nearly $300,000 of taxpayer money, intended as coronavirus relief for businesses, on himself.

If convicted, prosecutors say they intend to pursue restitution and asset forfeiture and told the court allowing a Caribbean vacation would prevent the victims and taxpayers from recovering restitution.

The judge is siding with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, saying Chad Schampers faces a lengthy prison sentence if convicted, writing ‘allowing the defendant to travel internationally allows for him to go to any place in the world and not return to this country.’

The judge goes on to write, ‘the fact (SCHAMPERS) stated he would waive extradition if he didn’t return to the U.S. gives the court little assurance he would not abscond if he were allowed to leave’ the USA.

He also write, ‘the use of funds... for a vacation would frustrate efforts’ to provide restitution and ‘no matter what amount, large or small, that would be used for the vacation... could not be recovered’ in order to give back to victims.

The court still has trials for all four people indicted scheduled for April.

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