Former flooring store owner pleads guilty to stiffing customers - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Former flooring store owner pleads guilty to stiffing customers

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The former owner of a Rancho Bernardo flooring company who took nearly $28,000 in down payments from clients and never completed the work before the business shut down pleaded guilty Friday to three felony counts.

Leonidas "Leo" Serakos, 69, who now lives in Texas, owned Bernardo Flooring from 1976 until Aug. 3, 2009, when the store closed abruptly because of financial problems.

Between June and August of last year, Serakos allegedly took money from various customers -- including one who was 87 and another who was 90 years old -- and never completed the work.

Customers said they paid Serakos thousands of dollars in down payments for flooring, window treatments and installations shortly before the business closed. They said they were unable to get any refunds when they found out their orders were canceled.

He pleaded guilty to diversion of construction funds, taking excessive deposits on a home-improvement project and theft from an elder.

Prosecutors will not oppose reducing the felonies to misdemeanors if Serakos makes full restitution of $27,909, said Deputy District Attorney Gina Darvas.

The defendant had faced more than eight years in prison if convicted of 12 felony counts, the prosecutor said.

Serakos is to be sentenced Jan. 13 by Judge Theodore Weathers.

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