A married couple who ran a construction company have been charged with bilking more than $800,000 from more than 30 local customers, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’ s Office announced on Thursday.
Constance Gabriel, 50, and William Gabriel, 65, who ran Sunrooms America Inc., would allegedly start home addition projects, collect payments and then disappeared without finishing what they started, leaving dozens of clients in the lurch.
Prosecutors say the couple found many of their clients online. Before starting any work, they allegedly demanded deposits above and beyond the legally required percentage of the contract amount. Authorities say they left numerous projects unfinished, but some they never even started at all.
Even after the sunroom parts manufacturer stopped doing business with the couple, they continued to solicit money for contracts, prosecutors say. The money reportedly went to personal expenses, including rent, car payments and a trip to Disneyland. The Contractors State License Board revoked the licenses from three companies owned and managed by the defendants.
The Gabriels fled to Maricopa County, Arizona, where authorities tracked them down and arrested them on Aug. 9. The pair was extradited this week and now face 79 charges, including 33 felonies for, among other things, grand theft and elder fraud with white-collar crime enhancements because of the large sum of money they allegedly stole.
If convicted, they could face prison time. Their arraignment has been set for Friday.
“The victims wanted to beautify their homes, but they were taken advantage of by an ugly criminal scheme,” prosecutor Cherie Bourlard said in a news release. “Anyone who takes money and promises this kind of work must deliver it or we will hold them accountable.”
Prosecutors ask that anyone with additional information about the case call DA investigator Dave Hewitt at 408.808.3713.