Trial starts for NPB business man

Posted at 1:48 PM, Feb 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-29 17:18:46-05

Trial was set to begin Monday afternoon in the case of Joseph T. Schiavone, Jr. He was charged with grand theft and money laundering in real estate deals soon after our Consumer Watchdog stories aired.

We exposed Schiavone's business deals with multiple consumers who wanted to buy a home. North Palm Beach Police say Schiavone took nearly $100,000 from ten clients.

When the deals fell apart, some were promised refunds. Schiavone even told the Consumer Watchdog he would refund one customer. That never happened, although, some customers received partial refunds.

Sheila Seidel said he took a deposit for a home, but the deal didn’t go through and she says she didn’t get her money back.

"It's been hard because that was the last of what my parents could give me. I spent it to help my son and it's gone. It's gone," Seidel said.

She says Schiavone did pay her back about $4,500 of the $24,000 she gave him for the home.

The state says the money was deposited into Schiavone's business account, Best Fidelity Investments, and then moved to another account.

Schiavone's attorney says it was the accountant / bookkeeper who moved the money around.

"The only thing he was was negligent. This is a civil matter," explained Schiavone's attorney Joseph Maryuma.

Maryuma said if Schiavone did anything wrong -- it was that he was negligent in this matter. Maryuma said Schiavone did not commit a crime.

The jury is expected to get the case Tuesday.