SIESTA KEY, Fla. -- A Siesta Key man accused of running a rental scam was arrested Monday morning after throwing a bucket of urine on a county employee. This after the man's neighbor was caught on tape stealing an ABC 7 vehicle from in front of the property in question.
44-year-old Craig Siegel now faces 19 felony charges of Scheme to Defraud, and one felony charge of Battery on Code Inspector.
According to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, multiple people reported paying Craig Siegel, via his rental company, to rent a 12-bedroom home in the 6500 block of Sabal Drive. Siegel modified the structure in 2013 but did so without the proper permits, so Sarasota County Code Enforcement ordered him to dismantle the lower level new construction. The home has just five bedrooms, but Siegel still advertises it as a 12-bedroom property.
Detectives identified 19 victims nationwide who paid Siegel more than $53,000 to rent the 12-bedroom home and asked for refunds after learning the property was not what he portrayed. They were either forced to stay at the property without adequate accommodations, or sacrificed the money they spent and had to pay to stay elsewhere.
Siegel told the victims to sue him, claiming he did not have money to return. However, detectives obtained financial records showing Siegel paid $172,500 to a Fidelity Investment Plan last year. Detectives identified additional victims who did not want to be part of the criminal investigation, fearing they would lose money already paid to Siegel.
Earlier this year, as ABC 7 reporter Josh Taylor was shooting video of the property for a story on the alleged scam, neighbor Jean Price tried to get Josh to leave, then drove off in the station vehicle herself. The video was shown on national news outlets. Charges are still pending against Price.
Monday, when a code inspector with whom Siegel has had frequent dealings arrived at the home on official county business, Siegel threw a bucket of urine on the man.
Siegel is charged with Criminal Mischief and Battery on a Code Inspector in connection with this morning's incident. In the rental scam he is charged with 19 counts of Scheme to Defraud, for which he is being held $55,000 bond.