Solar roof fraud suspect rented private jets to appear successful, deputies say

Authorities seeking additional victims

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – A wanted man who used a fake name to operate a fraudulent solar panel roof business would rent private jets in order to convince people that he was wealthy and successful, according to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies said the investigation began on Sept. 25 when a concerned resident called the Indian Harbour Police Department because he had just paid $150,000 to a man he knew as James Cook of Cabo San Lucas LLC for the construction of a high-end solar roof.

As authorities began the investigation, they said they discovered that Cook was actually 51-year-old Leandro Javier Obenauer, who had been wanted out of Orange County for three years.

[TRENDING: Trump, first lady test positive for coronavirus | Racial slurs found in bathroom at Casselberry construction site| Spooky: Creepiest places in Florida]

He moved to Brevard County in December 2019 and had a fake South Carolina driver’s license with the name Cook on it, records show. He was doing solar roof business in the area under the names Cabo San Lucas LLC and Powerhouse Roofing, deputies said.

Obenauer rented a house in Melbourne Beach and would often rent private jets to present “the illusion that he was a successful businessman,” according to a news release.

“He was living what they were calling lifestyles of the rich and famous,” Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Tod Goodyear said.

The Sheriff’s Office called Obenauer a “smooth talker.”

“Most people that are conmen are able to talk and able to say things. They are very good at reading people, knowing what to say to get you to buy,” Goodyear said.

Deputies said once they verified Obenauer’s identity, they made a plan to arrest him and his girlfriend 67-year-old Miriam Torres, who also had a warrant out of Orange County on a fraud charge.

Obenauer was arrested at a storefront he rented as he was loading equipment and Torres was arrested at the beachfront home Obenauer rented, according to authorities.

They’re both being held at the Brevard County Jail, where they made initial appearances before a judge Friday.

Defense attorney Daniel Martinez is representing the suspects.

“They claim that they’re innocent and that’s what we’re going to go with,” Martinez said.

Deputies said the investigation is ongoing. Anyone who did business with Cabo San Lucas LLC, Powerhouse Roofing, Cook or Obenauer is asked to call the Indian Harbour Beach Police Department at 321-773-3030 or the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Economic Task Force at 321-633-8410.

About the Authors: