Police: Trio took $190K from elderly woman for repairs they didn’t finish
State police in Butler County have charged three people with theft by deception because they allegedly took close to $190,000 from an 89-year-old woman to fix up her house but never finished the work.
Trooper Jessica Titler in a news release identified the suspects as Dannie Cook, 48, of Beaver Falls, Deborah Cook, 63, of Beaver Falls and Gina Zazac, 56, of Westmoreland City.
The incident took place from July 17, 2012, to Nov. 27, 2017, Titler said. Troopers were notified of the incident from the victim’s Power of Attorney.
Titler said Dannie Cook agreed to replace the roof of the victim’s Slippery Rock home, fix cracks on the front porch and foundation of the residence and install support beams in the basement.
However, when Titler went to the home, she saw multiple cracks and holes in the foundation and front porch area, a poorly installed roof and multiple poorly installed support beams in the basement.
Dannie Cook is known for doing various home improvement projects in the county, Titler said. He will ask his victims to pay a deposit before he begins working but won’t fulfill the agreed work, she said. He sometimes asks victims to write checks to people other than himself.
According to Titler, the victim wrote Dannie Cook 46 checks totaling $149,893; Deborah Cook seven checks totaling $22,010; and Gina Zazac five checks totaling $17,140.
She said the statute of limitations only allows troopers to date back five years. Therefore, the grand total for all checks written to the suspects is $122,531.
Dannie Cook is charged with theft by deception, deceptive or fraudulent business practices and receiving advance payment for services he did not perform, according to online court documents. He waived all charges.
Deborah Cook and Gina Zazac face charges of criminal conspiracy for theft by deception, deceptive or fraudulent business practices and receiving advance payment for services not performed, court documents show. A preliminary hearing for both is set for 1:45 p.m. Sept. 26 before District Judge William O’Donnell.
Anyone with information on Dannie Cook is asked to call Titler at 724-284-8100.
Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Madasyn at 724-226-4702, [email protected], or via Twitter @maddyczebstrib.