Susquehanna County, Pa., District Attorney Jason Legg described the past four years of battles that Mary Alice and Arnold Manning have had with Tamara Santarelli as a “nightmare.”
That nightmare came to a close Thursday (Feb. 24) with the Mannings back as the owners of the Shady Rest Campground after Mrs. Santarelli, 42, was sentenced in Susquehanna County Court in connection with two fires at the property, the Scranton Times Tribune reported.
Mrs. Santarelli, of Harpursville, N.Y., and formerly of Wilkes-Barre, Pa. pleaded no contest in January to intentionally setting fire to her residence at the Gibson Township campground in April 2009. She also entered a no-contest plea to a charge of reckless endangerment that stemmed from a November 2007 fire that destroyed a bath house on the property.
She was sentenced by President Judge Kenneth Seamans to serve seven years’ probation on the arson count and two years’ concurrent probation on the endangerment count. She was also ordered to pay nearly $97,000 in restitution to the insurance companies for funds paid out for the fires.
Mrs. Santarelli, along with her husband, Victor Santarelli III, 44, purchased the property from the Mannings in 2007.
On Thursday, Mrs. Manning took the stand and directly addressed Mrs. Santarelli: “In 2007, we sold you, in good faith, a beautiful property with a 5-year-old home and a campground you said you wanted very much. Before the first year was out, you had burned the bathroom down for money. You did not pay the taxes and did not keep up the mortgage payments.”
The Mannings had financed the sale to the Santarellis and then foreclosed after not receiving mortgage payments from the couple.
As part of the plea deal, charges lodged against Mr. Santarelli in connection to the bath house fire will be dropped, and it was agreed that Mrs. Santarelli would receive a probationary sentence contingent on the campground property being deeded back to the Mannings.
“The Mannings cannot be satisfied with today’s outcome,” said Legg. “The concessions made in the plea agreement are not something I’m happy with.”
The Santarellis have other legal issues. On Feb. 9, the U.S. attorney’s office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced a grand jury had returned an indictment charging the couple with conspiring to defraud the estate of a deceased aunt.
According to U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith, the indictment alleges that Mr. and Mrs. Santarelli engaged in a scheme from May 2006 through August 2007 to defraud the Joanne Striminsky estate. Mrs. Striminsky died Jan. 4, 2007.
The indictment alleges that the Santarellis conspired to steal more than $75,000 from the estate. Mail and wire fraud charges were also leveled against the couple.