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Suit filed to recoup investment

The complaint says crews working on the Crystal River home abandoned the project.

By CATHERINE E. SHOICHET
Published February 27, 2007


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The man who first reported problems with Sky Development Group to police has filed a lawsuit against the company.

In a complaint filed in Citrus County Circuit Court on Monday, Peter Mazzarino of Coral Springs claims he paid more than $29,000 to Sky Construction Group - the North Miami Beach developer's home-building subsidiary - as a down payment for a 2,800-square-foot home in Crystal River. But construction crews abandoned the project.

Now Mazzarino wants his money back, and reimbursement for a $3,643.32 lien placed on his property by a lumber company that Sky never paid.

The complaint also alleges that Sky "acted unconscionably and engaged in unfair or deceptive acts or practices" and violated Florida's Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act by:

-Misrepresenting when construction would start and finish.

-Stealing money Mazzarino provided for home construction and "converting it to their own use."

-Abandoning the construction project and "committing mismanagement or misconduct."

For months, Sky Development Group has been at the center of an FBI real estate fraud investigation. Detectives think the couple behind the company, Natalia and Victor Wolf, slipped out of the country in October, leaving behind more than 100 victims and taking more than $20-million from fraudulent transactions.

Citrus County sheriff's detectives and the North Miami Beach Police Department are also investigating the company.

Spokeswoman Gail Tierney said Monday that the Citrus Sheriff's Office has turned over its investigation files to the FBI.

Mazzarino could not be reached for comment Monday. But in previous interviews with the St. Petersburg Times, the 50-year-old locksmith said that after no sign of construction for months, he grew suspicious and called police.

In September, North Miami Beach police Detective Ed Hill went with Mazzarino to Sky's headquarters in North Miami Beach for a meeting with Natalia Wolf.

He found no evidence of wrongdoing.

But a $28,500 refund check Natalia Wolf gave Mazzarino bounced on Oct. 16.

Hill returned to find the headquarters empty.

Since then, Mazzarino has been trying to organize victims and get the word out.

"There are so many people who still don't know," Mazzarino said in November. "There are so many people who think that everything is wonderful."

Catherine E. Shoichet can be reached at cshoichet@sptimes.com or 860-7309.

[Last modified February 26, 2007, 23:18:48]


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