June 15, 2024

After almost three years, the owners of a now-defunct Tulare construction company, implicated in defrauding the victims of the 2017 Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa, have been convicted. Salvador and Pamela Chiaramonte, owners of Chiaramonte Construction & Plumbing, are key figures in a large-scale fraud case related to post-wildfire rebuilding in Sonoma County.

On Friday, the couple pleaded no contest to several felonies in Sonoma County Superior Court. Amy Diane Perry, their daughter and co-defendant, also pleaded no contest.

Sal Chiaramonte was convicted on 13 counts involving the diversion of at least $1,000 and one elderly or dependent adult theft. According to court documents, both Pamela Chiaramonte and Perry pleaded no contest to a single count of diversion of funds.

The limited scope of these pleas doesn’t provide a full picture of the 59 counts each family member initially faced, which ranged from personal property grand theft to construction fund diversion. The family’s preliminary hearing scheduled for April 22nd, which would have decided if the case should go to trial, was cancelled due to the pleas. Their sentencing is scheduled for July 14th.

Allegations of Poor or Non-Existent Work After Receiving Payment

Chiaramonte Construction was the first company accused of negligence and fraud during the extensive 2017 Tubbs Fire recovery efforts in Santa Rosa. The fire, which caused the destruction of 4,600 homes and resulted in 22 deaths, left many desperate for help in rebuilding their lives.

Those who contracted the company to rebuild their homes later claimed that the company took their money without completing the work or doing it poorly. These clients alleged broken promises, missed deadlines, and unbearably slow progression of the rebuilds.

A pending major fraud case still looms against the Chiaramontes, with over a dozen former clients suing them in civil court.

Consequences Felt Beyond the Criminal Court

In 2019, the Contractors State License Board initiated an investigation into Chiaramonte Construction, subsequently suspending their license due to failure to maintain workers’ compensation coverage. The Construction company was later disbanded, and in April 2020, the Chiaramontes’ filed for personal bankruptcy protection. Criminal charges soon followed in July 2020.

It’s estimated that about 40 construction contracts were signed by the defendants following the Tubbs Fire. The complaint points out 16 victims, half of whom were over the age of 65, leading to additional elder abuse charges. The grand theft charges cover losses of over $1 million. Additional offenses regarding fund diversion each amount to at least $2,350.

Frequently Asked Questions

What were the charges against the Chiaramonte Family?

The Chiaramonte family, owners of Chiaramonte Construction & Plumbing, were initially faced with 59 counts ranging from personal property grand theft to construction fund diversion. However, they pleaded no contest to several charges including 13 counts involving fund diversion of at least $1,000 and elderly theft.

What was the outcome of the case against the Chiaramonte family?

The family pleaded no contest to multiple felonies, effectively ending their criminal trial. The specifics of their sentencing are yet to be determined, with a court date set for July 14.

What impact did the accusations have on the Chiaramonte’s construction company?

Following the accusations, the Contractors State License Board launched a probe into Chiaramonte Construction and later suspended its license due to failure to maintain workers’ compensation coverage. The construction company was eventually closed, and the Chiaramontes’ filed for personal bankruptcy protection.