Man’s Attempt to Donate $3 Million to Dick Vitale Ends in Arrest

Left to right: Dick Vitale and Robert Schnepf (Getty, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office)

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

Example: A wealthy buyer interested in buying two properties and a luxury car for $23 million, and who also pledged $3 million to a cancer research foundation turned out to be nothing more than suspected fraud, according to police.

Sarasota resident Robert Schnepf, 48, was arrested on Monday by police on November 1 after Schnepf, identifying himself as Robert Banagino, allegedly went on a bizarre two-day spending spree and attempted to buy industrial property for $17.5 million, residential property for 5.3 million and a 2022 Mercedes-Benz for $132,000 on Oct. 27 and 28, the Sarasota Herald Tribune reported.

Schnepf, posing as Banagino, first contacted an unidentified real estate agent on Oct. 26, saying he was from New York and was looking to purchase commercial property.

The next day, the agent met with Schnepf and claims that he agreed to the purchase of the industrial property. Schnepf then reportedly wanted to purchase residential property in the Forest at Hi-Hat Ranch area of ​​East Sarasota. As paperwork was being prepared for this transaction, Schnepf also reportedly said he wanted to buy a luxury car and was referred to a local dealership.

This is where he slipped up. During the Mercedes-Benz purchase transaction, Schnepf reportedly signed his real last name instead of Banagino on the option to buy agreement.
While at the dealership, Schnepf reportedly claimed he had more than $120 million in assets and had to donate some of it for tax purposes.

The dealership connected Schnepf with Vitale, who invited the accused to his home, after pledging $3 million to the V Foundation for Cancer Research.

The scheme fell apart when the agent became suspicious of Schnepf’s claims and researched the internet, where she learned that Schnepf had been accused of fraud on several social media sites. Authorities say Schnepf is a twice-convicted felon and is on probation for a fraud case in New York.

Schnepf was arrested and charged with conspiring to defraud over $50,000. He was being held on $100,000 bail.

Ted Glazer


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