Police affidavit accuses AC company employees of elaborate fraud scheme
One woman told police she was pressured to tears into signing on a tablet. Another said she has multiple sclerosis and can’t even sign her own name. Others claim they were not told they were agreeing to around $50,000 worth of work to be done on their homes.
Several former customers’ stories are laid out in a police affidavit in the case against Bruno Total Home Performance owner Louis Bruno and nine of his employees.
But one of them said she will not be happy until everyone involved in the scheme is held accountable, including Louis Bruno’s civil attorney Robert Burandt.
Attorneys from Burandt’s firm filed a lien on Debi Giardello’s property in 2018 when she canceled a financing agreement.
“Everything was done backward,” she said. “They had already installed the unit before I even talked to the financing company.” She said Burandt used a fraudulent contract where her signature had been copied and pasted in order to put the lien on her home.
Giardello filed a complaint with the Florida Bar against Burandt for filing false documents with the court. The Florida Bar says that complaint is now a grievance case that is currently being investigated by a grievance committee.
Katherine Rueb, whose allegations are also detailed in the police affidavit, also had a lien filed on her property. She also claimed in court documents and in her statements to police that false documents were used to file the lien on her home.
WINK News spoke to attorney Robert Burandt in 2019 about Giardello and Rueb’s accusations.
In an email from 2019, Burandt wrote:
“You asked me if I was aware of any forged or fraudulent documents and my response was no. That is still my response, I am aware that Katharine Rueb has alleged that she didn’t sign the contract and that is a disputed fact. She also says she didn’t get any equipment installed, that is also a disputed fact. If I believed her I wouldn’t pursue this case, but I don’t. If we find out there was no valid contract and no equipment installed the case will be dismissed or I will withdraw. You seem to want to believe everyone who makes unsupported allegations, but remember these are only allegations.”
WINK News followed up with Burandt Thursday to find out if he felt differently now that Rueb’s allegations are detailed in a sworn police affidavit.
“I did read the probable cause affidavit. I didn’t see anywhere that she says she ever paid Bruno anything, and it appears she has a working system, otherwise the officer would have said so in hIs conclusion. There’s a fine line between overzealous sales pressure and fraud. I don’t remember saying I didn’t believe her and what I think doesn’t matter. What I believe I said was she received a product and hadn’t paid for it, which appears to be what’s in the probable cause affidavit. It’s not my style to accuse someone of not telling the truth in any of my cases, that would be unprofessional of any attorney. No one likes high-pressure sales people including myself,” Burandt wrote by email Thursday.
Sawyer Smith, the criminal defense attorney representing Louis Bruno said he plans to defend Bruno against the allegations in court.
Bruno bonded out of jail early Thursday morning and has a court date scheduled for June 8.
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