Sarasota con man sentenced to four years
SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A man who tried to scam a local realtor out of $23 million in property while pledging millions to a cancer charity championed by Dick Vitale has been sentenced to prison.
Robert Schnepf, 48, pleaded guilty plea March 7 for fraudulent use of a fictitious personal identification information. He was sentenced Tuesday in Sarasota Circuit Court to four years in prison for the 2022 case and four years for a separate larceny case in 2019, court records show.
Deputies say Schnepf contacted a local realtor in October 2022. Using the name Robert Banagino, he told the realtor he was from New York and wanted to buy a commercial property on 26th Street Court East.
According to the arrest report, after completing the deal for $17.5 million, Schnepf, posing as Banagino, told the realtor he also wanted to buy a $5.2 million home in east Sarasota County in the Forest at Hi-Hat Ranch area.
While preparing the paperwork for the second deal, Schnepf also signed a purchase option for a $132,000 car at a Mercedes-Benz dealership.
While at the dealership, Schnepf told the owner he had more than $127 million in a bank account and need to donate some of the money for tax purposes. The dealer suggested the V Foundation, a charity raising money for pediatric cancer research associated with TV personality Dick Vitale.
After arranging a meeting with Vitale, Schnepf pledged $3 million to the Foundation. The realtor began having doubts about Schnepf’s story and began online searches on his background. She found several social media pages accusing Schnepf as a fraudster.
Detectives followed up and learned Schnepf was currently on felony probation on a previous fraud case.
Vitale expressed outrage when the news began leaking. “This morning I am DEVASTATED & HEARTBROKEN to find out he is a notorious con man who has been arrested numerous times all over from NYC to Florida,” he said on Twitter.
In the 2019 case, Schnepf pleaded guilty and was convicted of larceny for running a contracting business without a license after he failed to install a new air conditioning unit and do home improvements for a client, while collecting more than $20,000, according to a probable cause affidavit.
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