The former owner of a Southwest Florida air conditioning business who was arrested on fraud charges is set to be released from jail after paying bond.
Louis Bruno made his first appearance before a Lee County judge Wednesday morning. He’s facing up to 200 years in jail after 40 counts of fraud were filed against him.
Bruno, along with nine of his former employees, allegedly used high-pressure sales and scare tactics to induce customers to purchase services and products that may not have been needed.
“I’m glad that this was reported to the police. Bruno told me if I felt his staff or his employees did anything wrong or I feel like they did something illegal happening in his business that I should report it to the proper authorities,” said customer Lance Henderson.
Henderson said he called Cape Coral police in 2018 after Dustin Baucom, a Bruno employee, pulled a fast-paced fraud scheme that ended with Henderson’s signature forged onto a fraudulent finance agreement.
“One of the fraudulent schemes included having employees at Bruno Total Home Performance go to a consumer’s home to give an estimate of a new air-conditioning unit,” said Cape Coral Police Chief David Newlan. “In some cases, they would ask the customer to sign the estimate on an electronic device, such as an iPad, and that signature would be transferred to a sales contract without the customer’s knowledge.”
Baucom and four other employees from the company also made their first appearances Wednesday and were granted bond.
Henderson said he won’t be satisfied until he sees Bruno behind bars for good.
“What was the cause of this? Why? And find out if he’s going to serve any time, then I’ll see how I feel then.”
Three of Bruno’s former employees charged in the scheme have already bonded out, but two others remain in jail awaiting release.
All of them, including Bruno, are due in court June 8.