NEW PORT RICHEY, Florida - A 14-month 10 News investigation into a Spring Hill man accused of ripping off the elderly resulted in an arrest Tuesday.
The Pasco Co. Sheriff's Office - acting on a tip from 10 News - arrested Nick Stanko, 53, for scheming to defraud several elderly residents of the county. He also remained in jail Wednesday after Lake County added 36 counts of unlawful solicitation.
As documented in several previous stories - including one where he yelled at one of his elderly victims and another where he promises he's quitting his illegal business - Stanko is accused of taking large sums of cash (often upwards of $1,000) to slap paint on driveways.
"This is the best news I've heard in a long time," said State Sen. Mike Fasano (R - New Port Richey).
Fasano got involved following a previous 10 News story, urging local law enforcement to step up their pursuit of Stanko.
Despite Stanko's claims that the "liquid concrete" would fix cracks in the surface, victims and deputies say it was nothing more than watered-down paint that washed away immediately or made the appearance worse. According to Tuesday's arrest report, he admitted to deputies his work was "substandard."
Stanko was arrested at his latest victim's home in Hudson when he returned to do more work. The homeowners were upset they were taken for $1,000 (Stanko insisted on cash) and found about his background on 10connects.com.
They contacted 10 News and deputies were brought into the equation to initiate the arrest. They charged Stanko with "Organized Fraud" in connection to four different incidents in Pasco Co.
It's a good thing that the citizens reached out to (Noah Pransky) and 10 News," said Pasco Co. Sheriff Bob White. "(It) really got the ball rolling to make everyone in the community aware that this kind of fraud was going on."
White also mentioned the letter he received from Senator Fasano.
"Our senior citizens are being taken advantage of," Fasano said in January.
"Channel 10... did a follow-up story on him in September 2009 after warning people seven months earlier against his unethical and possible illegal tactics," Fasano wrote. "It is my understanding that Mr. Stanko is still in business and is still taking advantage of our elderly residents even after all the complaints and media exposure. This is unconscionable! I really do not know how much more information is needed to demonstrate that Mr. Stanko is in violation of Florida laws protecting our elderly and needs to be stopped."
Fasano also sent his letter to Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, Secretary of the Department of Elder Affairs Douglas Beach, Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson, State Attorney Bernie McCabe, and State Attorney Brad King. Several other investigations are pending statewide.
"I'm hoping that, when it's all over and said and done," Fasano told 10 News, "that (Stanko) will have stopped what he's doing (and) that he's being prosecuted for what he has done."
Stanko faces one fraud charge in Pasco Co., eight charges in Polk Co., and - just added Tuesday evening - 34 counts of "Unlawful Home Solicitation" in Lake County from incidents at The Villages.
If you believe you are a victim of Nick Stanko, Stanko Paving, Stanko Masonry, or Robby's Concrete, you should file a report with your local sheriff's office. We also encourage you to write us, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow 10 Connects reporter Noah Pransky on Twitter at www.twitter.com/noahpransky or Facebook at www.facebook.com/noahpransky.
Noah Pransky, 10 News