No blog is complete without a bit of scandal – which is why we’re introducing a new article category: “Hall of Shame”. While we hope our industry doesn’t produce enough news for us to regularly update this series, rest assure that when it does, we’ll feature it here.
Case in point: auto trimmers/con-artists Joseph and Jennie Fusco
According to local reports, the pair have been running auto trim scams in Fort Ann, New York for nearly a decade – giving the hardworking folks in our industry a bad name.
Post Star writes:
The Fuscos were in trouble with police in the region on-and-off for nearly a decade, since they moved to the area in 2001 from Florida. They left Florida amid similar fraud charges.
They have been repeatedly accused of taking money from customers to do upholstery work on cars, boats and furniture, but not doing the work. [more]
The Fusco’s were arrested and convicted numerous times of defrauding customers. In 2010, they were sentenced to prison for felony charges related to fraud and grand larceny. They were also sentenced on probation violations stemming from a 2008 case. Claiming that their sentences for probation violation were excessive, the couple filed appeals, but were denied on Thursday by the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court.
Joseph is currently serving a 2 to 5-year prison term, while his wife was released in October after participating in NY’s shock incarceration program. She’s on parole until 2013.
A few comments left by our readers on another upholstery forum…
kodydog: A few years back we were getting calls from people asking if we knew any thing about a certain upholstery shop. They would give an estimate for recovering furniture, get a deposit for the fabric but never pick up the piece. They would order the fabric and it would sit in their shop for months. When the customer called there was always some excuse about a death in the family or the upholsterer being sick and then they would suggest to just come and pick up the fabric. The perfect scam in that they really did nothing illegal.
DC Auto Upholstery: I once had a customer bring me a disassembled seat with a bag full of upholstery patterns. The poor guy said an upholsterer took on the job, took apart the seat and before he can begin to sew the new upholstery was arrested and sent to prison. I wanted to help him out but half the pieces were missing. I told him his best bet is to buy a used set of seats and have them recovered.
sofadoc: Back in the early 80’s, when my mother owned the business, she made an agreement with a competitor in town. He would close HIS shop, and come to work for US.
We already knew that he did great work. What we didn’t know was that he had cheated so many of his customers. He had taken deposits, and then never would do the furniture.
So when he came to work for us, his reputation as a crook came with him.
At first it was just a few unhappy customers coming forward. He always had good excuses as to why he hadn’t done their work. Then complaints poured from all over town. One elderly lady using a walker came from the other side of town demanding her deposit back. My mother promised her that WE would make it right, and then drove her home.
By osmosis, we had acquired the bad rep that HE had established. For years after that, we were unable to ask for deposits because no one trusted us. My mother tried to keep him on until he had worked off his debts, but for obvious reasons, the relationship quickly went south.
Whenever the phone rang, there was a 50% chance that it was either one of his former angry customers, or a bill collector trying to find him.
It took us years to shake that “bad rap”.
Reason #412 why I don’t hire anyone.
mike802: Wow sofa, that sucks. It is so hard to find anyone who knows anything about upholstery to come work for you, then you get burned by their bad reputation. I don’t understand why people didn’t come to yours moms shop and complain about the guy; long before she hired him. We had a upholster in my area when I was growing up, he had a wonderful reputation and everyone praised him up and down. He has been dead for many years now and I get one of his pieces to reupholster every now and again, how can I tell it is his work? He had some signature ways of doing things, and his work looks like the biggest hack I ever saw, apparently his prices were low enough that people excepted his poor workmanship, otherwise I don’t understand how he ever got his great reputation. His old customers are hard sells because they think I am getting rich on their job alone.
One of my biggest buttons are upholsters who set up shop and charge very low prices. These guys work for less than minimum wage, but the general public who knows nothing about upholstery values the trade by those who charge the lowest, that makes it difficult for those of us who try and charge the going rate for a tradesman in the area. Its OK for a mechanic, plumber, electrician, or a contractor to charge between $50.00 and $125.00 an hour, but ho my god let the upholster try and charge half that and he, or she is some kind of shyster. Sorry for the rant.
sterry56: In Charlotte, NC we have an upholstery shop that advertises $99 labor for a sofa………the catch is you must buy the fabric from him.
He sells fabric at huge mark ups (fabric prices could break $100/yd…..even though the suggested retail price would be in the $40/yd range)
I came in after him on an estimate and was told by the house wife that I quoted from the same Greenhouse book but my price was $400 less than his estimate. She went on to say that he said the fabric had a 20 year warranty.
His approach is high pressure and is a “one shot” shop……..if he has repeat customers they must have $ to burn.
He has had a “successful” business for over 20 years and if you are in Charlotte on a Monday or Wed….pick up a Charlotte Observer and you will see his ads.
He sub contracts all of his work out and in my opinion is a pox on our industry.
Legal? Yes. Ethical? No.
Gregg @ Keystone Sewing: Not the right place for me to air dirty laundry, but this happens quite a bit in the sewing machine dealer industry. In fact, this happens in all industries, really.
Does anyone know where Jennie is now ? I heard see here in Florida. She has my engine hatch cover off a 1985 formula 206. I’m pretty sure she reupholstered it last fall but I never got it back.
I doe says
They are in Fort Lauderdale Florida
Robert Booth says
I have known Joe Fuscoe’s dad for many years and he is a very good guy. I never knew Joe until two months ago when I gave him a $900 deposit for a job to recover some airplane seats. He has done nothing for it and does not intend to. When I confronted him about his past and demanded my money back, he bragged about being untouchable by the law because he says it’s all about the intent to do the job, and that he has been through this fifty times. He also said he is hooked on heroine and that getting high is all he cares about.
Robert Booth says
Joe Fuscoe’s has set up what appears to be a hole in he wall upholstery shop in a storage building on Dixie Highway in Fort Lauderdale. He is a fast talker that has screwed several people I know since he got to me. He talks a good story, but stay far away because he is very bad news.
Roy James says
They ran off with a $1000 bucks, but we got them to serve time…. the sons cashed the checks and are a bunch of hoodlums….. he is in hiding…. still looking over his shoulder…
Joe and his wife are running an upholstery shop in Ticonderoga NY. They just closed one in Hudson Falls NY. Just left a couple messages trying to get him to finish a job from almost two years ago. Nothing but lies and excuses from the both of them. These are SORRY PEOPLE stay away!!!!!!!!
william montgomery says
Ray: I am chasing Fuscos now for money and they have my boat, work not done. Just discovered it in Ti behind old Wicker Ford shop. Can you call me 518 222 0389 Bill