Tampa Bay columnists
Mary Jo Melone
World & Nation
AP The Wire
Comics & Games
Home & Garden
Advertise with the Times
ProCraft Cabinets shuts door on several
By TIM GRANT
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 19, 2000
CARROLLWOOD -- After paying a deposit for custom kitchen cabinets, Gerald Alonso made an appointment to have them installed Jan. 15 by workers from ProCraft Cabinets, but nobody ever came.
For the next two days, no one at the company would even answer the phone. Finally he drove to the office at 11425 N Dale Mabry Highway, but all he found was mail stacked up at the door. The office had been closed for at least five days, according to adjacent business owners.
"Right then I knew I might not get my money (near $4,000) back," Alonso said.
Consumer protection agencies in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties say that more than a dozen people have made similar complaints against the company since January.
"It appears that the owners have disappeared with everybody's money," said Harold Delk of the Hillsborough County Consumer Protection Department.
ProCraft Cabinets is also under investigation by the consumer protection division of the Pinellas County State Attorney's Office. Neither Hillsborough nor Pinellas officials have decided whether to pursue criminal charges against the company's owner.
"We are looking at these complaints to see what we can do with them and we are hopeful that some kind of action can be taken," said John Wood, a Pinellas County consumer investigator.
Records show that ProCraft Cabinets is owned by Mona Seminew, the sole signatory on all the business accounts. Her husband, Dale Seminew, had listed the company as his place of employment.
Neither of them could be reached for comment.
The company's decline could be related to the breakup of the couple's 28-year marriage. According to their Hillsborough divorce file, Dale Seminew has accused his wife of trying to loot the company's assets, and she has had him arrested twice for violating a domestic violence restraining order.
When Dale Seminew, of Carrollwood Village, filed for divorce on Nov. 19, he asked that Mona Seminew be prevented from removing anything more than normal business expenses from ProCraft's bank account. At the time, he said the company had gross annual sales of $3-million.
In a sworn affidavit in December, office manager Barbara Brinson said Mona Seminew issued herself a business check for $100,000 as a Christmas bonus, but Brinson stopped payment on the check because she knew about the injunction.
She testified that Mona Seminew instructed her to issue thousands of dollars in checks for other personal expenses, including home furniture, travel and rent at Colonial Grand at Carrollwood apartments.
Dale Seminew had asked that either he, Brinson or bookeeper Tom Wilson be appointed as receiver and that Mona Seminew be removed as a signatory on all the business accounts.
While Dale Seminew was filing court actions against her, Mona Seminew was having him arrested for violation of a domestic violence injunction. The arrests, on Dec. 31 and Feb. 28, took place in the shopping plaza where the business was, records show. In November, Dale Seminew told court officials there was $170,000 in the business account with about half a million dollars' worth of work to be completed by the year's end. The company appeared to be in good shape, but by early January the business was shut down.
As ProCraft customers discovered that the company was closed, they turned to the subcontractor, Bay Cabinets of Florida, at 5518 W Linebaugh Ave.
According to owner Rick Adkins, Bay Cabinets had done work for ProCraft since 1992 and business was smooth until January. Adkins said he also has a lawsuit against ProCraft concerning worthless checks he received before the closing.
Adkins counts himself among the frustrated retailers and former customers who have made no progress in recovering the money they lost dealing with ProCraft.
"They still have our money and I've tried to contact them every which way I can," said Angela Jackson, a customer who lost $3,000. "I have a huge file on this, which is a shame because it's turned into a part-time job trying to get my money back."
-- To reach Tim Grant call 226-3471, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.