WILKES-BARRE — The embattled owner of Wyoming Homes pleaded guilty Monday to charges he defrauded dozens of would-be homeowners who paid for homes and services that were never provided.
David D. Valenti, 63, of 321 Glenmaura Dr., Moosic, pleaded guilty in Luzerne County Court to 19 counts of theft. Six other theft charges were either withdrawn or continued to a later trial term, court records show.
Valenti was accused of receiving down payments from customers and failing to deliver newly constructed modular homes or failing to complete construction. Some of those customers were homeowners displaced by record flooding that crippled parts of the region in September 2011.
As part of his plea agreement, Valenti agreed to pay tens of thousands of dollars in restitution to the alleged victims.
It remains unclear just how much Valenti, who filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in February 2015 to liquidate the Plains Township modular home business, will be able to pay back. He lost his license to sell homes in 2014 and faces similar charges in Wyoming and Susquehanna counties, according to court records.
Among those who accused Valenti of defrauding them, according to the criminal complaints:
• Marita Zim purchased a modular home from Wyoming Homes after her house in Exeter Township was destroyed during the September 2011 flood. She made a $6,000 down payment plus a $415 rental in a trailer park in anticipation the home would be installed. Valenti never followed through on an agreement to refund Zim in April 2013, the complaint says.
• Margaret Scholz, of Dallas, purchased a modular home from Valenti’s company and made a series of down payments totaling nearly $12,000 from November 2012 to August 2013. Scholz allegedly learned Valenti never ordered the home to be built, according to the complaint.
• Richard and Wendy Jones reported they gave Valenti a $3,000 deposit and payed $1,243 in inspection and permit fees in 2013 for a modular home to be placed in Chestnut Hill Township, Monroe County. According to the complaint, Valenti allegedly failed to submit their mortgage loan application and failed to refund the Jones’ deposit, inspection and permit fees.
• John Guziewicz purchased a $49,840 modular home in September 2011 to be installed in Tobyhanna Township, Monroe County. The township stopped construction in July 2012 when the installed footers were not fastened correctly in the ground. Guziewicz claimed his house was delivered and left on wheels on the lot, and he was forced to pay $6,000 to hire another contractor to complete the home.
• Daryle Martin reported Valenti allegedly sold him a FEMA home for $16,175 in early 2014 when the home was owned by Bad River Housing in Wisconsin, which kept seven FEMA trailers at the Wyoming Homes sales lot for storage.
• Beth Rozelle reported she paid Valenti $44,000 for a FEMA trailer in 2013 that Valenti claimed was new. Rozelle alleged the trailer was delivered in disrepair and had been used by a couple in Texas.
• Marjorie and John Matyas purchased a modular home in 2012 which included a central air conditioning unit, but claimed the unit was never installed.
• Linda Artis and Robert Hemmstra gave Valenti a $15,500 deposit in 2013 for a new home that was never installed, the complaints say.
Judge Joseph Sklarosky Jr. scheduled Valenti’s sentencing for May 26 at 9 a.m.
Reach Joe Dolinsky at 570-991-6110 or on Twitter @JoeDolinskyTL