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Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015

Judge forces sinkhole contractor to pay victims $200,000


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BROOKSVILLE - Since 2009, Robert Contorno's sinkhole repair company caused more harm than good to four Spring Hill homes, owners said.

Last week, Judge Daniel Merritt Jr. ordered Contorno, 50, pay a total of $180,711.13 as compensation.

Contorno's company, Click's Construction, was hired by four Spring Hill families in 2009 to repair sinkhole damage to their properties. A Hernando County Sheriff's Office investigation later found Contorno, of Palm Harbor, filed false documents to collect insurance money, used a non-certified engineer to prepare sinkhole reports, and later had an accredited engineer sign off on them.

Contorno was arrested in May 2011, and served 209 days in the Hernando County Jail before being released on $25,000 bond.

Earlier this year, Contorno pleaded no contest to organized fraud charges, avoiding jail time in exchange for five years probation and restitution payments to the victims. Contorno, whose charge was reduced from a first-degree felony to a third-degree felony, also paid $15,500 in restitution up front.

In July, Judge Daniel Merritt Jr. heard testimony from victims in the case, who said their homes received more damage from Contorno's work. One woman said she's replaced her wood floors twice due to rain damage. Another woman, who rehabilitates and re-sells sinkhole homes, said her professional reputation has been compromised.

Assistant State Attorney Rob Lewis, who is prosecuting the case, said Thursday another hearing will be set to determine how much Contorno can make in monthly payments. Lewis said Contorno is eligible for early termination of probation once the restitution is paid off.

(352) 544-5283

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