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John Gerace

January 13, 2016 - 4:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, John Gerace.

picturesjan132026-6.jpg

It's hard to find good houses for rent in Batavia and John Gerace, a local real estate agent, believes some guy in Nigeria found a nice little scam for himself to take advantage of that fact.

Since Gerace, in a manner of speaking, was a target of the scam, he decided to have a little fun last week at the scammer's expense. 

He posed as a prospective renter and went so far as to con the guy into thinking he sent him $700 via Western Union.

The scammer has been using Gerace's name with his fake rental listings on craigslist, and Gerace made no attempt to hide his identity in his e-mails, phone message or text messages.  

Still, the scammer persisted until he caught onto the ruse, then cut off communication with a Nigerian profanity and ditched his burner phone.

"They wouldn't be doing this if people weren't sending them money," Gerace sad.

Sadly, people probably are sending fake rental agents money, though Gerace has no direct knowledge of that happening, and law enforcement is largely powerless to do anything about it.  

It's one of the dangers of free online classifieds. It's easy for anybody to post anything, though craigslist does warn people not to wire money for housing rentals.

The Nigerian has been using Gerace's listings, all houses that are actually for sale, not for rent, as rental posts on craigslist. The scammer lifts the photos, property description and address out of the for-sale listing and posts them to craigslist. To help further entice the fish, he makes it sound like a great opportunity -- a below-market-value rent of $700, including utilities and pets are allowed.

The act was pretty sophisticated, too. The Nigerian e-mailed prospective renters an application and told a woeful tale of why he and his family needed to rent their beloved house in Batavia.

"I decided to rent out the property due to our transfer to (Black Creek, WI) on a Missionary Work by my church here, so we are renting it out since we need someone to take good care of the property on our absent," the Nigerian writes. "Don't be surprise if you find the home with another site and deference price, I have plan to rent it through Real estate before, but they are not serious simply because they have a lot of house to lease out and they added some money to the rent while there commission is not fair."

When Gerace posed as a potential renter, he told an even sadder tale to the Nigerian.

"I am very excited about the home you have for rent in Batavia located at 18 Oak St.," Gerace sent in a text message. "I have been looking for 3 months for a place for me and my 2 disabled children. My wife was killed in an auto accident when we were driving on the thruway and my 2 children were seriously injured and now need specialized treatments which can only be done here in Batavia by a very close medical center. This home is in a perfect location for us to seek treatments. I am a minister at our local church and I work 2 other jobs to pay all my bills. I am very clean and would take very good care of your home."

Gerace was incredulous that the Nigerian responded and continued with the scam.

So when an agreement was reached, Gerace told the man he sent, as instructed, the $700 via Western Union. He provided a fake transfer ID number. Over the next several hours, the man apparently made several trips to the Western Union office, exchanging messages about the missing money with Gerace along the way, before he realized he himself had been scammed.

The final message from the Nigerian was two words. Gerace translated it. It wasn't nice.

Throughout this ongoing scam, Gerace has been contacted by people who have seen the listings and either didn't realize they were fake or weren't quite sure.  

One home buyer -- Gerace represented the seller, not the buyer -- flew off the handle when his wife found the house they were purchasing for $225,000 in a craigslist listing under Gerace's name.

"He f-bombed me," Gerace said. "What are you doing trying to rent our place when we have an accepted purchase offer!"

Gerace explained it was a scam.

" 'Come on,' " he said, " '$700 a month on a 2,500-square-foot home, including utilities?' I said, "If it sounds too good to be true, it's too good to be true."

Gerace wanted to share his story in the off chance people might read it and get that message.

If it sounds too good to be true, it's too good to be true.

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September 14, 2012 - 9:10am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, John Gerace, Chad Zambito.

Chad Zambito picked 197 votes in the Town of Batavia GOP primary for a seat on the town board, beating John Gerace, who had 89 votes.

September 12, 2012 - 6:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Sponsored Post, advertisement, John Gerace.

The time has come for the voters of the Town of Batavia to finally put an end to the madness and focus on what counts!

I think we’ve all had enough of the irrational, mentally imbalanced rantings, and judgmental, unfounded comments …

Did you know that JOHN GERACE has been lobbying in Albany at least 3 times a year for 20 + years…For YOU & I, the taxpayers of this town??? Not as part of his job … on his own personal time, at his own cost. Fighting to keep down property taxes, recording fees, mortgage taxes, school taxes, and any other ridiculous State fees and/or taxes that get onto the Assembly floor for a vote.

Did you know that JOHN GERACE has also lobbied in Washington D.C. for all of New York State taxpayers????

Did you know that JOHN GERACE has served with dedication to the Town of Batavia for over 17 years???

·      10+ years as a Councilman*

·      5 years on the Planning Board

·      2 years on the Zoning Board of Appeals

***VOTING FOR AND FINDING WAYS TO KEEP A 0% TAX RATE IS AN ACCOMPLISHMENT FOR THE ENTIRE TOWN BOARD TO BE PROUD OF!!!!***

John Gerace stands for lifelong commitment to the Town of Batavia and all of Genesee County through his actions with YEARLY support of…

·      Genesee Cancer Assistance…Every fundraiser

·      Habitat For Humanity “Home in a Box” build with physical and financial participation

·      Crossroads House

·      Constant fund raising for the Republican Party at the Town, County, State, and National level

·      Volunteer work for local clothing drives and food pantries

·      The United Way Day of Caring

·      Countless Rotary Club events over the years

·      School fundraisers, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts

·      Many, many Church fundraisers…the list is endless…

JOHN GERACE’S immense contributions to the Town of Batavia happen greatly on his own time…

Not as an occasional byproduct of his day job, which he gets paid to do, but from the heart in an effort to improve our lives through making our town a better place to live, and to provide our children a financially sound community in the future so that they can one day raise their own children here.

Please get out and

VOTE FOR THE PROVEN REPUBLICAN, JOHN GERACE

The Republican primary is September 13 from Noon to 9 p.m.

~Paid for by The Friends of John Gerace.

August 29, 2012 - 4:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, John Gerace, Chad Zambito, Batavia Town Board.

Grammy's Laundry, a business located on West Main Street and owned by Chad Zambito, a candidate in the GOP primary for Batavia Town Board, has been closed and its assets are being sold at auction.

The auction is set for 2 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 4, at the order of the Bank of Castile.

Besides owning money to the Bank of Castile, Zambito also borrowed money from the Batavia Development Corporation (BDC) to help upgrade and modernize the laundry.

In total, Zambito said, he owes less than $20,000 against the business's assets, which he said he expects to fetch close to $30,000 in the auction.

Zambito said today his business got into trouble in January when a plumbing problem forced him to close the laundry for two months. Even after the doors were open again, customers did not return with the same frequency as before.

He believes another business caused the blockage in the plumbing system, but it wasn't resolved in time between the other business and the landlord to get his doors reopened in a timely manner.

"It wasn't my responsibility to fix it, but yet I'm left to deal with the consequences," Zambito said.

The failure of Zambito's business was brought to the attention of The Batavian by his GOP primary opponent John Gerace. Gerace didn't accuse Zambito of stirring the pot on Gerace's own personal issues, but said if others are going drag the campaign into personal issues rather than real issues, people should know about the auction proceedings.

Zambito was appointed earlier this month to fill the vacant spot left on the Town Board by Gerace's resignation from the board in April. Zambito is also the endorsed candidate by the town's GOP committee in the Sept. 13 primary race.

While the notice on the door of Grammy's Laundry confirms the auction, The Batavian has not been able to confirm the amount of debt Zambito incurred and has not repaid. A FOIL request to the City of Batavia for related BDC documents has not yet been answered.

Zambito is a former BDC board member, but said he left that position when he was no longer employed by Genesee County Economic Development Committee, and didn't request the loan until after he was no longer a BDC member.

Grammy's Laundry, Zambito said, went through three or four years of ups and downs as he tried to get the business going and in time, prior to the plumbing problem, the laundry was not much more than a break-even proposition.

"I worked with both lending institutions in an attempt to stay on track, but it got to be too much," Zambito said.

August 28, 2012 - 10:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, John Gerace, Chad Zambito, Batavia Town Board.

The signs say "Re-Elect John Gerace, Town Board," but it's not that simple.

Gerace is not the incumbent in Batavia.

Chad Zambito is. He was appointed earlier this month to the seat vacated by Gerace in the spring.

Gerace has been trying to get the seat back ever since his letter of resignation, which he says was written in a "knee-jerk reaction," was accepted by Supervisor Greg Post.

As for Zambito, he's not overly concerned about Gerace posting "re-elect" signs.

"I don't think he's necessarily trying to confuse the issue," Zambito said. "I just think they're from a prior election."

Gerace said he figures he can run for reelection because he's been elected before.

Of course, so has Zambito.

Both were first elected to the town board in 2003, and then Zambito resigned in 2007 when he became VP of marketing for Genesse County Economic Development Center, causing a possible conflict of interest.

Now they face each other in a GOP primary Sept. 13 that is the result of Gerace's resignation in April.

At the time, Gerace wouldn't discuss his resignation. Now he acknowledges it was spurred by events at the awards and installation dinner for the Town of Batavia Volunteer Fire Department.

Gerace was intoxicated at the event and was observed being loud and boisterous.

What happened later in the evening isn't clear, but Gerace said that contrary to various rumors, he was not involved in a physical altercation with Supervisor  Post.

He said he and Post had words outside of the fire hall about his behavior, and some people followed them out to see what was going on, but that was it.

"I held myself up to a higher standard than most people being an elected representative," Gerace said. "(My resignation) was a knee-jerk reaction. The next day I spoke with the supervisor about it and he asked me what I should do and I said I would fire myself. It was a knee-jerk reaction."

Even though he acknowledges that he wrote a letter of resignation, it was never intended to go through or be made public.

It was supposed to be held in abeyance until and unless he had any similar problems in the future.

Once word got out about the letter, however, Gerace said, Post had no choice but to accept it.

Gerace said he also went to the next board meeting for the fire department and personally apologized to every member for his behavior at their event.

Earlier this month, Zambito, who was endorsed by the town GOP as Gerace's replacement, was selected by the town board to complete Gerace's term.

Gerace believes the process for selecting Zambito violated parliamentary procedures under Roberts Rules of Order. But Zambito said the town's attorney looked into it and the process was fine.

Besides the fire department event and resignation, the other issue that may dog Gerace in the primary is a question about unpaid taxes.

In June, NYS Taxation and Finance issued a tax warrant against Gerace $571.26.

When asked about it, Gerace said, "I know what that's about. It's taken care of."

The Batavian learned of the tax warrant after an unknown person attached a copy of it to our office door.

Even with all these issues, Gerace said he's confident he's the right man for the job and that voters should check off his name on their ballots.

"I have a proven track record serving the Town of Batavia," Gerace said. "I'm a lifelong resident of this area. It's very near and dear to me and the issues that effect this area effect myself. I don't vote to approve or disapprove motions for myself. I look at how they effect every member of the community."

Gerace added that he also has a near-perfect attendance record for town meetings over the past decade.

Zambito said he would bring experience and professionalism to the position.

He noted that besides being a previous town board member and serving on the Genesee Chamber of Commerce Board, his three years with GCEDC is just the kind of experience the board needs right now with all the planned and anticipated growth in the town.

April 26, 2012 - 1:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, John Gerace.

John Gerace, who has served on the Town of Batavia Board for more than 16 years, resigned his position more than a week ago.

No reason has been given for his resignation.

Supervisor Greg Post confirmed Gerace's resignation today but declined to comment further.

Post said the board has not yet decided on a process for filling the vacant position.

Gerace could not be reached for comment.

Photo: File photo.

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