Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Three arrested in investigation of a/c sales tactics

A Hernando County Sheriff's Office investigation into devious sales tactics by a Pasco County-based air-conditioning business landed three employees in jail Friday.

The employees did work in Hernando for a company called U.S. Air Conditioning. The three men were charged with exploitation of the elderly and attempted grand theft in a scheme where they sold new units to unsuspecting customers who didn't need them.

It's not the first time the company faced scrutiny. In 2002, a Times investigation found that company employees pressured or persuaded elderly residents in the Tampa Bay area to spend thousands of dollars on unnecessary or overpriced repairs.

Dozens filed complaints with government agencies and a number of arrests were made as the Hernando County State Attorney's Office and the state Attorney General's Office launched criminal inquiries.

Four years later, arrest reports suggest many of the same tactics are still in use.

Dennis Garlock, one of the employees arrested Friday, admitted that he punched a hole in an elderly victim's air-conditioning system's copper coil with a knife during a maintenance check. He then planned to install a new unit without a permit and outside the purview of his employer, according to arrest reports.

Garlock, of Port Richey, then told investigators his bosses indirectly pressured him to make sales. They don't explicitly tell him to sabotage units but only pay him $5 per home visit, the reports state.

Two other company employees arrested were Stanley Lachowicz, 40, and Steven Buhler, 32, both of Port Richey.

A Hernando Sheriff's Office spokeswoman said more victims could come forward as word about the company's methods spreads.

John Frank can be reached at jfrank@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6114.

Three arrested in investigation of a/c sales tactics 03/28/08 [Last modified: Friday, March 28, 2008 7:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Volcano Bay, and its waterproof wristbands that eliminates lines, now open at Universal Orlando

    Attractions

    ORLANDO — Universal Orlando opened its third park on Thursday, this one a resort-style water attraction called Volcano Bay that features the first waterproof wristband that promises to eliminates lines.

    Universal Orlando opened its third park, on May 25, 2017, this one a resort-style water attraction called Volcano Bay that features the first waterproof wristband that promises to eliminates lines. [Willie J. Allen Jr. | for Universal Studios]

  2. Tampa Bay is ground-zero for assignment of benefits cases over broken auto glass

    Banking

    When Rachel Thorpe tried to renew her auto insurance last year for her Toyta RAV4, she was stunned to see her monthly premium had nearly doubled to $600. The Clearwater driver was baffled since her only recent claim was over a broken windshield.

    Auto glass lawsuits filed by a third party (through what's known as assignment of benefits) are skyrocketing in Tampa Bay.
[Times file photo]
  3. Tampa Museum of Art exhibit proves love for animals is timeless

    Visual Arts

    TAMPA

    An intimate, heartfelt show at the Tampa Museum of Art charmingly reveals — as if we didn't know it already — how little has changed among humans and their pets since ancient times.

    Camden Willeford and his fiancee, Leslie Moen, check out “The Classical World in Focus: Animals in Ancient Art” at the Tampa Museum of Art in downtown Tampa.
  4. In split vote, Hernando commission settles contentious airport lease issue

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County Commission Chairman Wayne Dukes made it clear Tuesday that he wanted to see the issue about who would get to lease and then buy the old Brooksville Air Center settled once and for all.

    Wayne Dukes adjourned without public comment.
  5. The cast of Hamilton sang a rendition of "Happy Birthday" for Star Wars' 40th Anniversary.