First Alert Investigation finds more legal woes for ex-car salesman charged in federal probe
NORTH EAST WISCONSIN, Wisconsin (WBAY) — A northeastern Wisconsin man charged in federal court with conspiracy to commit fraud involving consignment car dealers faces increased legal trouble related to unrelated businesses.
John Solberg was arrested and charged in November 2019 after a multi-year investigation into his companies Standard Pre-Owned and Backwoods Bargains in Suamico and Kaukauna. Investigators say he forged titles and sold cars, but kept money instead of paying the owners of the vehicles.
Solberg is scheduled to appear before a federal judge Thursday for a change of plea hearing. He previously pleaded not guilty to the charges.
First Alert Investigation has uncovered information connecting Solberg to new businesses. Some customers say they have had problems with their projects. For months we received calls from people saying they hired a new roofing company to do work that was not to their liking or resulted in expensive repairs. Others told us they worked for the company and were threatened and too scared to talk to us on camera
First Alert Investigation started digging and found lawsuits and lawsuits under different company names. These things have a connection: the name John Solberg.
For over a decade, we’ve been reporting on multiple companies run by John Solberg, resulting in legal issues for him and numerous clients who claimed they had been scammed.
It started in the late 2000s with Solberg’s Green Bay bar Vicenzi’s. It closed after several fights and city law violations.
Solberg soon turned to car sales, operating Backwoods Bargains and Standard Pre-Owned.
Hundreds of complaints led to a local, state and federal investigation into the consignment dealer alleging that Solberg would sell cars for people but keep the money and falsify titles on vehicles.
Solberg was arrested in 2019. A federal grand jury has indicted John Solberg on 15 counts of fraud.
Solberg pleaded not guilty to the charges and a judge released him on bail on the condition that he did not violate federal, state or local laws; not secure a loan or financing without court approval; and has no contact with customers or employees of its dealerships or Summit Contracting.
First Alert Investigation has reported extensively on Summit Contracting, which is under federal investigation for an alleged scheme to defraud financial institutions and customers by taking their money without completing work.
We did not find any provision prohibiting Solberg from starting a new business.
Eighteen days after Solberg’s bond release, a new company called New Heights Roofing, Inc. incorporated and registered with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. The agency does not list a business owner by name, which is common. However, we received repeated calls from viewers asking them to look inside the company. We did.
The New Heights Roofing, Inc. website does not list a physical address for the company. No owner or team member names have been given. A local phone number is listed. We called and John Solberg picked up.
Solberg tells us he is an employee of New Heights Roofing, Inc. and that the company is governed by the board of directors and shareholders.
Searching online for New Heights Roofing in Wisconsin, the company’s only state, leads us to an address in Suamico, according to Solberg. Tax and court records show that this is John Solberg’s home address.
First Alert Investigation asked Solberg why an employee’s address would appear there. Solberg says this is a problem with websites he is trying to fix.
The same address is listed for a company called 1st Contracting. We couldn’t find a website for the company or a whole lot of other details about it. Solberg tells us he owns it and started it before quitting his job at Summit Contracting.
First Alert Investigation found a case against 1st Contracting and John Solberg filed in New York in 2020. A judge ordered the payment of more than $23,000 to Kodiak Funding. Lawyers argued that Solberg has not held up his end to a 2019 financing deal.
Solberg says the money has since been paid.
In June, a Sheboygan County couple filed a lawsuit against New Heights Roofing for breach of contract. They claim they hired the company last summer to replace their roof, gutters and vents, but the work isn’t complete yet. The suit claims widespread flaws that require the roof system to be replaced.
The homeowners tell First Alert Investigation that they have been trying to resolve this with Solberg for months.
Solberg tells us that on Tuesday, July 20, the issue was “satisfied to both sides.”
First Alert Investigation: “How much did you have to do with New Heights and with John Solberg?”
Russ Burie (roof purchased from New Heights Roofing, Inc.): “More than I want…yeah, sure, but the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
Russ Burie says New Heights knocked on his door in Door County last winter and took what he thought was a good deal. Burie thanks the crew for working on a difficult project in harsh winter conditions. The roof is not leaking, but he is asking for more work.
“It’s done for the most part,” Burie says. “There is some cosmetic work, small pieces of the siding that may have cracked, a few screens.”
Solberg says the company will fix Burie’s roof and anyone who has a problem. He tells us that “all that matters” is that “the customer is happy”.
Solberg pointed to several positive reviews posted online and shared testimonials from satisfied customers, including a man who was given a roof for free after Solberg said New Heights accidentally ripped part of a roof off the wrong house.
Solberg’s federal case involving Standard Pre-Owned is scheduled for a Thursday afternoon hearing.
Solberg tells First Alert Investigation that he has $150,000 ready to repay the victims in that case. He says he has made the money since he was arrested in 2019. He owes his hard work and his faith.
Action 2 News will keep you informed of the developments in this story.
Copyright 2021 WBAY. All rights reserved.