North Huntingdon auto body owner accused of bilking customers for $56K
A North Huntingdon auto body shop owner was jailed Thursday for allegedly defrauding nine customers out of almost $56,000 for work he never did on their vehicles and for failing to pay for $13,100 in supplies.
Dean A. Vezzani, 38, of Maple Lane was arrested at his home Thursday by Westmoreland County Deputy Sheriff Alex Harshell.
Harshell said a woman at Vezzani's house told deputies she didn't know if Vezzani was home, even though officers saw a man with blonde hair at a window when they arrived.
Officers found Vezzani hiding behind a basement wall and told him he would be Tased if he didn't come out, according to court papers.
Vezzani had been scheduled for a preliminary hearing Wednesday before Gongaware on three cases filed against him by North Huntingdon police for allegedly defrauding customers of Vezzani's Customs.
Vezzani was charged with multiple counts of deceptive business practices and theft by deception and a single count of issuing a bad check. He's accused of bilking a customer out of $14,500 by taking payment but failing to repair a 1972 Corvette between August 2014 and September 2016, as well as taking the transmission and other parts valued at $2,818 from the car.
He also allegedly issued 27 worthless checks totalling $13,100 to Toona Automotive Paint in Irwin for equipment and supplies between September 2013 and November 2014. Police said he took $1,000 from another customer but didn't repair his 1988 Cadillac in September 2014 and held it for 20 months.
Youngwood District Judge Anthony Bompiani issued a bench warrant for Vezzani's arrest on seven other cases that North Huntingdon police filed on Wednesday. In those cases, Vezzani allegedly bilked customers out of $37,490 for failing to repair their vehicles. One case dates back to September 2011.
Some vehicles were moved to other locations and Vezzani allegedly refused to tell the owners where they were, according to criminal complaints. Some vehicles were recovered in pieces and one worth $8,000 still is missing, police said.
Vezzani was arraigned before North Huntingdon District Judge Wayne Gongaware and placed in the Westmoreland County Prison in lieu of $60,000 bond. He faces preliminary hearings before Gongaware on June 28.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.