BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Authorities have called Scott Romero, 39, of Palmyra a “serial scammer” because of the hundreds of complaints Western New York homeowners have filed against him, from Rochester to Buffalo.
Romero turned down a plea deal in State Supreme Court Thursday afternoon that would have led to jail time. If his case goes to trial, dozens of angry homeowners are lined up to testify against him.
Exposed by Call 4 Action, Romero signed a court order in 2011 agreeing to stay out of trouble, but prosecutors say he just continued taking advantage of consumers.
The Palmyra contractor drew hundreds of complaints against his Williamsville-based company, Extreme Snowplowing, four years ago. When those comments started coming in to Call 4 Action, authorities decided it was time to stop Romero–the “no show snowplow contractor”.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued Romero and business partner Richard Marrapese in state court, on January 25, 2011, accusing their firm of defrauding more than 400 consumers in Erie and Niagara counties, amounting to $120,000 in advance payments.
The following March Romero and Marrapese signed a settlement that basically put the two out of the snowplowing business until they could pay back those 400 homeowners, with Romero paying half and Marrapese paying the other half. They could not start another business without posting a $150,000 performance bond.
Last December, Romero was arrested by several police agencies near Rochester on charges of scamming homeowners there, and Schneiderman filed a petition for a criminal contempt of court finding against Romero.
In the Buffalo court on Thursday Assistant Attorney General James Morrissey offered Romero a plea deal that would include jail time, but Romero said he wanted another lawyer, from Rochester, rather than his assigned counsel, Buffalo attorney Daniel Grasso.
But Morrissey told Supreme Court Justice Catherine Nugent Panepinto, he has spoken with the Rochester attorney who has declined Romero’s case.
“He indicated to me he would not be representing Mr. Romero here, and that I should seek the appointment of counsel, which of course I’ve done,” and Grasso is the assigned counsel.
Justice Panepinto told Romero the case would proceed to trial, which is scheduled for May 12.
“I think that the plea offered by the Attorney General’s Office is a very fair one, but obviously that is your decision to make, and I certainly can’t tell you, you should take it,” he said.
A Monroe County grand jury in Rochester indicted Romero in January on two felony counts of scheming to defraud after dozens of homeowners claimed they had been scammed.
The Attorney General has arranged to have several of those Monroe County homeowners transported by bus to Buffalo for the May trial.
If Romero is convicted of criminal contempt, he could face two years in prison, plus costs.