Pretrial set for fraud suspect
Jeff SchmuckerBROOKSVILLE - June Nestlerode had waited all morning in court to see the man she says scammed her and her husband out of more than $7,000 as a down payment for a home that he didn't have permission to sell.
Published: November 10, 2012
Published: November 10, 2012
When Gaetano Antonelli, 62, entered the courtroom Friday dressed in his orange jail jumpsuit, Nestlerode was greeted with a smile and a wave from him before proceedings began.
Nestlerode, 64, said that just added insult to injury.
"He totally wrecked my life," Nestlerode said. "He about sunk us, and he doesn't even seem to care."
Antonelli, who is facing six counts of organized fraud, waived his right to a speedy trial and is scheduled to appear again for a pretrial hearing on Jan. 4.
His attorney indicated he intends for his client to plead not guilty.
While originally out on $49,382 bond, he was arrested again last week on a charge of trying to sell a home without a real estate license — resulting in his bond being revoked.
Nestlerode said she is frustrated at the slow pace of the justice system. She would like to see the trial get underway.
In May, she said she and her husband gave Antonelli a $7,300 down payment for a home and put another $3,500 into the property. For a few weeks at least, they thought they had a new home.
That was until a deputy contacted them and informed them they didn't own the home. Instead, the house is in foreclosure while Antonelli pocketed their money, Nestlerode said.
In June, Antonelli was charged with three counts of organized fraud after deputies determined he contacted individuals who were behind on their mortgage payments and allegedly tricked them into signing over the deed to their property via power of attorney.
He would promise the victims that he would sue the mortgage company on their behalf but instead would try to sell their home to an unsuspecting buyer using Craigslist, according to an arrest report.
If it hadn't been for a friend helping them to secure a new home, Nestlerode said she doesn't know where she and her husband would be living in the next few weeks. Even so, she said both she and her husband, Robert, have health issues and can ill afford to be out of more than $10,000.
"I just pray the judge says, 'Pay these people back,'" Nestlerode said. "We're too old to be starting over again. (Antonelli) has damaged us severely."
Kimberly Polk, who says Antonelli scammed her out of $5,000 to purchase a house, also was in attendance of the court proceedings Friday and said she plans to attend every appearance Antonelli has.
In her spare time, she has also contacted his other suspected victims and remained in close contact with them while also trying to spread the word about what happened to them.
"The only comfort I take from this is at least he has to stay in jail while all these proceedings go on," Polk said. "I hope he stays there and doesn't have an opportunity to again prey on the elderly."
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