Tuesday, October 3, 2006
Carmel on the Case: Check Casanova
It's one thing to be conned. It's another to be conned by somebody you know and love. But tonight, one South Florida woman says her boyfriend stole all her money -- and she's not alone. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On The Case.
WSVN -- Thirty-eight-year-old Frank Amanti is behind bars after leaving a trail of trouble and broken hearts.
Debbie Ciulla: "We were engaged. He gave me two rings, which were actually fake."
Earlier this year, Debbie Ciulla said her romance with Amanti left her in debt and despair.
She says she wrote bad checks and gave those checks to Amanti for him to use based on his promises that he would give her money to cover them. But he didn't.
Debbie Ciulla: "You know, I thought he was for real. I didn't know."
This is one of the those checks -- $31,000 at Carrazza's Jewelers in Fort Lauderdale.
The next day she says her signature was forged on another check from a different account. This one was signed with her former married name and was for $26,000 at the jewelers.
In both cases, Carrazza employees claim Amanti and another woman purchased the jewelry.
Ed Suhyda: "One was a stop payment and the other said insufficient funds."
However, this wasn't Amanti's first time. He has actually been writing worthless checks at least since 1994.
In 2003, he even went to prison for a year and a half.
So when the owner of the jewelry store, Ed Suhyda, threatened to call police -- Amanti returned everything -- except one watch -- a pricey limited edition.
Ed Suhyda: "Oh, it's horrible. I mean it's -- this is a $17,000 loss.
Carmel Cafiero: "Hi, are you Mrs. Amanti?"
Geraldine Amanti: "Yes."
We couldn't find Frank Amanti, but we did find his mother, Geraldine. We caught up with her before Frank was arrested, but she still didn't want to talk.
Geraldine Amanti: "I don't know, I'd rather not."
Carmel Cafiero: "Oh. OK. I can understand it's your son, but I'm wondering if you could put him in touch with me?"
Geraldine Amanti: "Of course I will."
I never heard from Frank Amanti.
But if I had, I would have asked him about Debbie Ciulla's parents -- John and Nancy Ciulla.
Carmel Cafiero: "What's he done to your life?"
John Ciulla: "Oh, what hasn't he done. Took almost all the money we had."
They say they gave Amanti money for investments. But all they got back were worthless checks.
John Ciulla: "Instead of being retired, I'm back at work, and the only thing that I could find was 11 at night until seven in the morning."
Carmel Cafiero: "Over the next several months, the Ciulla's and Carrazza tried to get authorities interested in their cases. Frank, meanwhile, broke up with his new girlfriend and moved back in with Debbie Ciulla. That's right, she took him back.
According to the police reports, it didn't last long.
Amanti and Ciulla apparently had a fight where he "took a steam iron and burned the tops of her feet."
That's what got him locked up again, and he may be there for a while.
Amanti is also accused of buying a $77,000 dollar Lexus with a bad check. Plus, investigators from the Broward State Attorney's Office are looking into the missing watch from Carazza's and another expensive watch from a Plantation jewlery store.
IF YOU HAVE A STORY FOR CARMEL:
Call her in Miami-Dade at 305-627-CLUE
Or in Broward at 954-921-CLUE