Solar system installer in jail for fraud

June 24, 2009 6:58:03 PM PDT
In the South Bay, an unlicensed contractor who took deposits but never installed the solar systems went to jail on Wednesday. At least 30 customers were victims.

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Richard and Esther Sirinsky got three bids when they wanted to install a solar system to produce electricity. They instantly liked a man from BEohana Solar, who turned out to be the owner and the lowest bidder.

"He came across to me as a personable, honest fellow," said Esther.

That fellow was 38-year-old Peter Be of Sunnyvale now under arrest and charged with 53 counts of theft and fraud. He's accused of taking deposits -- usually $1,000, but sometimes four times that much -- and never doing the work.

"I think he's a crook and a thief and a criminal," said Esther.

Despite a signed contract calling for specific components, the Sirinskys accuse Peter Be of a bait and switch.

"It turned out the substitute panel was a smaller panel, which would have required more panels on the roof which we didn't have room for and would have provided us with less power," said Richard.

Only a fraction of their deposit was ever refunded. Others haven't gotten back a penny.

"They were delaying our installation and wouldn't answer emails or phone calls, so my husband went to the location where their business office was and there was no one in the office," said Maureen Di Rubio, a San Jose resident.

ABC7 went to that office too, but found BEohana no longer exists. However, ABC7 discovered Peter Be now operates out of a downtown San Jose high-rise where the website for Sunny Hill Energy says he's the founder and CEO, offering the same solar product with almost identical wording as his previous company.

The company's public relations person said Be was on the road. The district attorney's office says he's in jail on a no-bail arrest warrant.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney's office is anxious to hear from other consumers who may have had bad dealings with BEohana Solar. In the meantime, Peter Be is scheduled for arraignment in San Jose later this week.

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