Tulare construction company convicted of defrauding wildfire victims

Tulare based construction company accused of scamming several people after the Sonoma County Tubbs Fire in 2017, convicted of criminal charges

SONOMA COUNTY, CALIF. – Three years ago a Tulare based construction company was accused of defrauding homeowners who were trying to rebuild their homes in Sonoma County after the horrible Tubbs wildfire of 2017. Last week the trio was convicted of several counts of fraud.

On Friday April 29, the case against husband and wife business owners of Chiaramonte Construction and Plumbing out of Tulare took a turn. Salvador and Pamela Chiaramonte pleaded no contest to a handful of the charges against them. No contest is not an admission of guilt, but it carries the same weight as a guilty verdict. Their daughter Amy Diane Perry was also a defendant in the case and pleaded no contest as well. Sentencing was set for the Chiaramonte’s on July 14 of this year.

According to the Sonoma County Superior Court , last week Salvador pleaded no contest to 13 felony counts of diversion of funds of at least $1,000 each. He also pleaded no contest to an additional felony count of theft from the elderly. Pamela pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor charge of diversion of funds and their daughter pleaded no contest to one felony count of diversion of funds of more than $1,000. 

The Chiaramonte’s owned Chiaramonte Construction and Plumbing out of Tulare. In 2019, Salvador was charged with 59 different felony counts including grand theft of personal property, diversion of construction funds, theft from the elderly and theft by false pretenses according to the Contractors State License Board and the Sonoma County Superior Court. Both Pamela and Perry were each named as co-defendants on all counts. The company was charged with stealing a total of a little more than $1 million. 

This conviction does not end the Chiaramontes’ dealings with the courts. There are still several former clients who sued the Chiaramonte’s in civil court that have yet to be settled.

In 2017, the tragic Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa and Sonoma Counties burned almost 37,000 acres, destroyed 5,636 structures and resulted in 22 civilian fatalities according to CALFIRE. Several homes were completely destroyed leaving their residents without a place to live. Chiaramonte Construction and Plumbing seemingly came to the aid of several homeowners. The Contractors State License Board began to receive several complaints about the company which initiated a months-long investigation obtaining four search warrants. During the investigation the board reviewed thousands of documents and interviewed several victims. The company’s contractor license was suspended and eventually revoked. 

Prosecutors say the Chiaramontes’ had signed around 40 construction contracts after the fire. Half of those homeowners were considered to be elderly, over the age of 65 which is what led to the elder abuse charges according to an article written by the Press Democrat on May 2, 2022. 

The Sun-Gazette’s calls from the Sonoma County District Attorney’s office were not returned as of press time. 

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