New York City paid a con man who defrauded distressed homeowners out of millions of dollars during the housing crisis nearly $50,000 dollars to decontaminate the apartment of its first Ebola patient, BuzzFeed News is reporting.
The city awarded Sal Pane and his Bio-Recovery the emergency contract to disinfect Dr. Craig Spencer’s Harlem apartment after the physician was diagnosed with the deadly disease in October.
But Pane’s clean-up truck bore permit numbers that belonged to a dead man, Buzzfeed said Thursday in a lengthy report. The website said the dead man’s grieving sister was duped by Pane into selling him the truck and the company’s name.
The dead man, Ron Gospodarski, ran a reputable company that had years of experience cleaning up anthrax sites and other danger zones. Buzzfeed said its investigation showed that at the height of the Ebola scare in New York, Pane went on TV claiming that experience as his own.
“Twenty-seven years” of experience he told one radio station. “Not my first rodeo.”
Buzzfeed said that 27 years ago Pane was 4 years old.
In 2008, Pane ran a Long Island company that took upfront fees to obtain mortgage loan modifications for homeowners seeking to avoid foreclosure. He was sued by then-New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who accused Pane of running off with fees without helping any homeowners. A judge ordered him to pay $12.5 million in fines and restitution to his victims. He’s only paid back $62,000.
Buzzfeed said Pane also did a nine-month stretch in prison three years ago after a jury on Long Island found him guilty of driving drunk and impersonating a prosecutor.
Pane’s contract with the city to clean Dr. Spencer’s Harlem apartment reportedly paid him and his company $48,000.
The city Health Department said it was unaware of Pane’s background but defended Bio-Recovery’s work.
Buzzfeed said in a brief phone interview Pane denied running Bio-Recovery. He also told the website, “Enjoy your smear campaign."