The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office charged a Sarasota man after he used a false name and identity in an attempt to buy two properties and a luxury car valued at more than $23 million.
On Saturday, October 29, deputies received the report of a series of suspicious transactions involving a man who identified himself as Robert “Banagino.” Due to elements of suspected fraud, an investigation was initiated by the agency’s Economic Crimes Unit. Through investigation, detectives learned “Banagino” hired a local realtor after claiming he was a business owner visiting Sarasota in response to Hurricane Ian. “Banagino” expressed interest in purchasing a commercial property valued at $17.5 million and a second residential property valued at $5.2 million. As the local realtor began the transaction process, “Banagino” also indicated he was interested in purchasing a Rolls Royce. The realtor connected the man to a local car dealership, where he agreed to buy a 2022 Mercedes-Benz valued at more than $132,000. At the time of signing, “Banagino” opted for the purchase option but signed his name as Robert “Schnepf.” While at the dealership, he alluded to his millions in assets and the need to donate money for tax purposes. The dealership manager introduced “Banagino” to former sportscaster Dick Vitale. After visiting Vitale’s personal home, “Banagino” pledged to contribute $3 million to the sportscaster’s foundation.
Detectives soon identified the fraudster as 48-year-old Robert Schnepf, a two-time convicted felon of 507 S. Kumquat Ct. Unit 117. Schnepf is currently on probation for Grand Theft and has prior arrests in Florida and New York for Grand Theft, Burglary, Assault, Possession of Forged Instruments, Criminal Impersonation, and more. Today he faces a single felony charge of Scheme to Defraud more than $50,000. He remains in custody on $100,000 bond while the investigation continues.