FIRST ALERT INVESTIGATION UPDATE: Summit Contracting guilty of wire fraud, ordered to pay restitution to customers
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Four years after the FBI started investigating a De Pere based company for wire fraud and money laundering, the case is finally settled against Summit Contracting in Federal Court on Friday.
Summit Contracting, a roofing and home remodeling business, admits to its wrongdoing of defrauding victims and taking their money under false pretenses.
The admission in court on Friday is part of a plea agreement. Victims tell Action 2 News they are not satisfied.
Victims have waited for four years for those originally charged in this scheme to be held accountable.
Each of the four people indicted in 2022 faced more than a million dollars in fines and decades in prison if convicted.
That is no longer the case.
As part of this plea deal, the fault is no longer placed on the individuals, rather on the company as a whole. This move changes how the courts’ view sentencing and punishment.
On Friday, Summit Contracting owners Chad Schampers and Nate Smith walked in the federal courthouse with their attorneys after signing a 14-page plea agreement.
In it, the home improvement company admits it defrauded people. The United States Attorney charges that summit contracting employees utilized ‘high pressure, deceptive tactics and false statements to induce prospective customers’ and then ‘misrepresented the terms of the financing being offered.’
Those are the same claims customers told First Alert Investigates in our original reports back in 2019.
Several customers told Action 2 News at that time, they were tricked into signing documents, like loan applications, that actually turned out to be legitimate paperwork. Unknowingly, signing over large amounts of their money immediately to summit saying the project was already complete— when in some cases—the remodeling work promised, hadn’t even started.
In these latest federal documents, Summit Contracting admits that’s what they did, saying these ‘facts are true and correct and establish its guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.’
As part of the plea deal, the U.S Attorney’s Office had to file a new indictment with the same information but changed who’s at fault.
It puts the blame on the company, no longer on four individuals indicted by a grand jury last year.
In February of 2022, our cameras watched as deputies ushered Schampers, Smith, Gina Schampers and Jeffrey O’Brien into the federal courtroom. Gina is Chad’s wife and worked in the business office while O’Brien was the lead salesman. They were all facing 9 counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud.
If convicted, each person faced more than a million dollars in fines and decades in prison.
The FBI said the four defendants wrongfully obtained, or tried to obtain, more than $1.5 million dollars from customers.
The defendant’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the case last year, but a judge denied it.
However, a few months later, the defendant’s attorneys argued the FBI’s search warrant at Summit’s offices in De Pere in 2019 wasn’t valid.
Court records indicate a large amount of evidence in this case was obtained at that search.
After months of arguing between both sides, a federal judge ruled there were enough questions about the search warrant to hold a hearing to determine if it could be used in trial.
A few weeks later, the government said it would work out a plea deal with summit instead and asked to cancel that hearing.
That brings us to the plea deal filed this week.
On Friday, the individual indictments against Schampers and Smith were dropped in lieu of one charge of wire fraud against Summit Contracting.
The indictments against Gina Schampers and O’Brien were also dismissed.
While under oath, Schampers pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud on behalf of the company, Summit Contracting.
A judge ordered Summit Contracting to pay $89,791.15 in restitution.
An attorney for the company said the corporation dissolved a few years ago but was reconstituted and can make restitution payments.
The judge ordered that Summit Contracting remain under probation for a maximum of 5 years or until the restitution is paid to customers.
Schampers and Smith did not comment after court.
First alert investigates maintained contact with several victims as this case made its way through the federal court system.
For fear of retaliation, the victims released a statement to Action 2 News saying they are saddened the charges were dropped to hold them personally responsible and wanted a different outcome, but they are thankful the U.S. Attorney was able to clear the loans, restore their credit and get money back.
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