East Tenn. contractor accused of cheating families in N.C.

East Tenn. contractor accused of cheating families in N.C.

This is the outside of the Russomanno home. This is the outside of the Russomanno home.
And this is the inside. And this is the inside.
Contractor Frank Bologna Contractor Frank Bologna

January 29, 2007

6 On Your Side Reporter

BEECH MOUNTAIN, N.C. (WATE) -- When two Florida families said they've been victimized by a contractor from East Tennessee, 6 On Your Side went to Beech Mountain to confront him.

This investigation involves two controversial projects being built in Beech Mountain, about 160 miles northeast of Knoxville.

"This is it. After $240,000, this is it. This is a house that was supposed to be completed in March or April of 2006," Arlene Russomanno said.

She and her husband, Glenn, are heartsick and nearly financially ruined. Their unfinished dream home in Beech Mountain has become a disaster. "This is disheartening. It's a shame. I hope no one else has to go through this."

When construction delays piled up, the completion date on their home moved from the spring of 2006 to the fall.

The Russomannos live in South Florida but they've been vacationing in North Carolina for years. They signed a contract with Frank Bologna, of East Tennessee Concrete Systems, to build their home.

"We spoke to him in August, asked to have our house ready, dry-in on October 10 when we were going to be pulling up. He said, 'no problem, send me another $40,000,'" Glenn said.

The Russomannos say they trusted the contractor and advanced about $100,000 extra to him.

"Then we found out he didn't pay his workers. He turned around and blamed us, saying that we refused to pay him," Arlene said. 

Leroy Phillips is one of those workers. "Have you been paid by Frank Bologna?" 6 On Your Side asked. "No," Leroy said. "What happened?" 6 On Your Side asked. "He promised and that was it. Well, he did write me one check that bounced," Leroy said. 

Two weeks ago, sub-contractors started pouring concrete for a garage next door to the Russomanno home. It's Bob Czaplicki's house. He's Arlene's brother and lives in Florida.

Bob hired the same contractor they did, advancing Frank Bologna about $200,000. "All this was supposed to be paid for already. The house is incomplete. I had to pay these contractors a second time. Frank basically ran off with the money," Bob said.

A week ago, 6 On Your Side asked Glenn Russomanno to have Frank Bologna meet at the site. 6 On Your Side was there when Bologna pulled up and so were local police.

"What happened to construction at this house, sir?" 6 On Your Side asked. "Nothing. Nothing happened," Frank said. "Why has construction stopped?" 6 On Your Side asked. Bologna was unhappy to see 6 On Your Side and reluctant to talk.

With Glenn nervously sitting in his truck, Frank Bologna pleaded innocent, accusing both families of writing bad checks to him. "Look, I don't have anything else to say," Bologna said. 

"You have a big chunk of their money," 6 On Your Side pointed out.

"He's done nothing wrong," Glenn said, shaking his head and pointing at his unfinished home. "Well, I have $260,000 in here. Look what I got. My brother-in-law has $310,000 and look what he's got. And he don't have a dime to finish it."

Frank Bologna is a licensed contractor in Tennessee. The Russomannos have filed a complaint against him.

If you have a question about a contractor, visit the state licensing board online or call 1-800-544-7693.

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