WILKES-BARRE — The owner of Wyoming Homes, a popular local modular home dealer with sales offices in Hazleton, Exeter and Plains Township, has been charged with theft — again.
Luzerne County detectives on Wednesday charged David D. Valenti, 61, of Glenmaura Drive, Moosic, with two felony counts of theft by deception — false impression. He was arraigned before District Judge Diana Malast and released on $25,000 unsecured bail to await a preliminary hearing scheduled for 9:15 a.m. June 26 before Malast in Plains Township.
The detectives allege Valenti accepted thousands of dollars from two women — one of them an 82-year-old flood victim — towards modular homes that he never delivered.
According to one criminal complaint:
Marita K. Zim, 82, told detectives in October 2013 that her home in Falls was destroyed during Tropical Storm Lee in September 2011 and she relocated to a temporary mobile home in Tunkhannock provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Zim visited the Wyoming Homes sales lot on Highway 315 in Plains Township several times to view modular homes on display and, in July 2012, entered into a purchase agreement with Valenti totaling $54,275. Over a few months, she gave Valenti a deposit totaling $6,000. The agreement reflected that the home would be delivered as soon as possible.
Company personnel told Zim to secure a site where she wanted the home delivered, so she paid $415 for a lot rental at Echo Valley Estates in Shavertown. In September 2012, she was notified by Wyoming Homes that her credit application was disapproved and they suggested she retain a loan guarantor. Zim’s cousin notified Wyoming Homes that she would be the guarantor, but the home was never completed or placed on the lot.
Zim filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection and, at an April 23, 2013, mediation meeting, Valenti agreed to return Zim’s $6,000 deposit and pay her $415 for the lot rental, but he never did.
According to a second criminal complaint:
Margaret Scholz told detectives she gave Wyoming Homes checks totaling $8,500 in November 2012 and was told by Valenti her the home would be delivered in five to six weeks, but it was not.
The complaint details how Scholz gave Valenti three more checks totaling $3,300 and agreed to take a home she liked better and that she was told could be delivered faster. She was told she would have the home by Oct. 31, 2013.
By November 2013, Scholz alleged, Valenti provided a number of different excuses, one of them being that the manufacturer had an equipment breakdown. Scholz called the manufacturer, Redman Homes, and a spokesman advised her no homes were in production for Wyoming Homes and none were scheduled for manufacture.
Scholz confronted Valenti and he told her he could return her money in installments. A few months later, she called Valenti again and he returned $500 in April, but no further payments were made.
Valenti also was issued a summons on Tuesday from authorities in Susquehanna County after detectives filed charges of theft by deception — false impression; and theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, according to court dockets. A preliminary hearing in that case is scheduled for July 8.