Charismatic Binsack has served time for bad check charges in N.Y., Penna.
Excerpts from various stories published by The (Scranton) Times-Tribune, sister paper of The News-Item, over the past five years help tell the story of Scott Binsack:
June 24, 2007: CLARKS SUMMIT - Scott Binsack makes his trade as a home builder, but his best tools are his mastery of marketing and his magnetic charisma.
Ken Jacoby, a local excavator who has dealt with Binsack, phrased it best in saying he could "talk a hound off a meat truck."
But a growing group of detractors now say the marketing and charisma that helped Binsack craft a high-end home-building company from scratch in four years serves as a thin veil concealing a pattern of deception and unpaid debt.
"He's quite a guy," Jacoby said. "If he spent half as much energy in home building as he did BS-ing, he'd be the successful builder he presents himself as."
Binsack's company - Mansions & Estates International LLC - faces at least three civil lawsuits from suppliers or contractors who say they haven't been paid. Ask Binsack, he says those plaintiffs are trying to get paid for goods or services they didn't deliver. ...
A Mansions & Estates' memo acknowledges the company's inability to pay bills or finish projects on time. Ask Binsack, he attributes the financial shortcomings to his company's rapid growth and outlines an ambitious plan to expand further into race car teams, television production, even a magazine.
... For those aware of Binsack's past as a home builder in Monroe County, the recent issues come as no surprise.
In 1999 he was accused of taking money from several customers and not completing their homes. In 2001, he pleaded guilty to theft and bad check charges in Monroe County Court, spent three years in state prison and was ordered to pay $100,000 restitution.
He talks openly about his conviction, contending he did nothing wrong. A near-fatal motorcycle crash prevented him from building the homes, he said.
... Mansions & Estates has some happy customers. In 2005, Joe and Judy Walsh built a new home in Archbald. Binsack and his crew did the framing, a task Binsack specialized in since starting a home framing business in Long Island when he was a teenager.
... "We've heard he had problems," Mrs. Walsh said, "but as far as we are concerned, we had absolutely no problem with Scott, and we have a beautiful basement."
... News of situations like those that involved the local excavator Jacoby spread fast. In July, Jacoby said, he completed about 60 percent of a job for Mansions & Estates when a dispute with Binsack erupted over engineering details.
"He gets really obnoxious and tries to get you mad so you quit and take a loss," Jacoby said.
Jacoby rattled off a list of colleagues who had similar experiences and are owed money.
Lou DeMarco, who worked for Mansions & Estates construction for six months in 2006, witnessed the confrontation with Jacoby. He said he has seen the same situation played out several times. ...
"For example, he'll need a spackler and hire one, and when they are just about done with the job, he tells them there's something wrong and not pay them," DeMarco said.
Binsack doesn't deny that he has kicked contractors off jobs. He says that's a sign of his exacting standards. ...
Long-time real estate agent Lynn Nichols (who had work done by Binsack) said Binsack struck her as organized, smart, ambitious and a hard worker. ...
"He's smooth, seems good-intentioned, and I can't imagine he would work so hard without every intention of long-term success," she said. "His ambitions caused too much to happen too soon. If he does succeed and does half of what he wants to, his life would make a great movie."
July 19, 2007: SOUTH ABINGTON TWP. - Scott Binsack knows the drill.
Once Magisterial District Judge James Gibbons set bail at $10,000 and state parole officials moved in with handcuffs, the head of Mansions & Estates International homebuilders removed his watch and gold bracelet.
He handed his fluorescent-orange Nautica key chain to an employee and asked him to fetch his freezer bag of prescription medication from his company vehicle.
He hugged his fiancée and executive assistant and whispered tasks into her ear, including, "I need you to be strong," "Call your father," and "Give me $200." He had proposed to her just three weeks earlier on his WILK radio talk show, "Building and Remodeling in the Millennium."
Binsack, 37, previously convicted of bad checks and fraud in New York state and in Monroe County, was charged Wednesday with two counts of bad checks, signaling what may be the end of the controversial, high-profile building company.
July 26, 2007: Scott Binsack's alleged trail of debt, deceit and unfinished work is resonating in the halls of the state capitol.
Rep. Frank Andrews Shimkus, D-South Abington Township, plans to introduce the New Home Construction Consumer Protection Act, a bill that would require homebuilders to register with the state and disclose past convictions.
... Shimkus said the bill was prompted by a Times-Tribune investigative report on Binsack, president of Mansions & Estates International LLC, as well as a series of stories exploring how the ex-con contractor was able to do business in Lackawanna County while shorting dozens of vendors, employees and clients.
Aug. 4, 2007: Jailed home builder Scott Binsack can add another group to those who claim he wrote them rubber checks: charities.
The $10,000 bad check Binsack allegedly wrote to the American Cancer Society is the latest revelation in a deepening legal quagmire for the president of Mansions & Estates International LLC. ...
The Clarks Summit man was arraigned again Friday at Lackawanna County Prison on four counts of bad checks and one count of harassment for allegedly leaving threatening and suicidal messages on someone's cell phone.
Feb. 8, 2008: Clarks Summit homebuilder Scott Binsack will face trial and managed to post bail Thursday.
After months of delay that included a change of defense attorneys, Magisterial District Judge John Pesota forwarded the eight counts of bad checks and six counts of harassment, all misdemeanors, to trial, finding that the Lackawanna County assistant district attorneys presented enough evidence to sustain the charges.
Thursday afternoon, Mr. Binsack also posted $75,000 bail and left the Lackawanna County Prison for the first time since his arrest in June.
March 29, 2008: Homebuilder Scott Binsack dashed from preliminary hearing to arraignment to motion court in a blue suit with a full briefcase Friday, acting as his own attorney and trying to beat a range of charges, from bad checks and harassment to insurance fraud and theft.
The controversial and flamboyant president of Mansions & Estates tried, but failed, to delay a single hearing.
He had pleaded not guilty to bad check and harassment charges and convinced a judge to reconsider a change in bail terms that prohibit him from drinking alcohol or entering places that serve alcohol. ...
During a snide exchange before a hearing, Lackawanna County Assistant District Attorney Maryann Grippo told him to "shut up," and he dashed out of court saying she would be investigated.
June 24, 2010: The president of the former Mansions & Estates International LLC pleaded no contest Wednesday in Lackawanna County Court to seven counts of writing bad checks and was immediately sentenced to time served.
But the sentence imposed by Judge Vito Geroulo does not mean Scott Binsack's days as an inmate are behind him.
Binsack, 39, could be headed to state prison for several years after he finishes serving 45 days of house arrest that was part of Judge Geroulo's sentence, said assistant District Attorney Mary Ann Grippo.
Jan. 26, 2011: The Internal Revenue Service caught up with disgraced construction contractor Scott Binsack and his defunct business, Mansions & Estates International.
Last week, the IRS filed a federal tax lien against the former South Abington-based business for $219,653. Binsack is in the State Correctional Institution in Dallas for violating his parole on his arrest in Lackawanna County. The IRS is seeking federal unemployment tax and payroll taxes that the company failed to pay. ...
When he emerges from prison, he faces a stack of civil lawsuits and judgments. York Building Supplies has a judgment against Mansions & Estates and Binsack for $49,527 for unpaid goods. Ford Motor Credit last year reinstated a lawsuit against Binsack for $14,106. At his sentencing, he was ordered to pay $21,119 in restitution to his victims.
... Largely in response to Binsack's offenses, the state Legislature passed the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act, signed by Gov. Ed Rendell in 2008. The law created a new crime, home-improvement fraud.