Charity founder questioned on eviction, employee pay

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — When Dan Telesco agreed to give News 8 a tour of his new warehouse – filled with all types of furniture to help veterans and families in need – we were amazed at just how much was donated.

Erica Dinis is a former employee at Make a Home Foundation who also worked at the original location in Newtown, which News 8 visited back in August.

That was when Telesco said he may have to close his doors because money was tight and he was having problems with local zoning officials.

Telesco said they run the foundation on the amount of money they make selling furniture, but Dinis said she knew something was strange.

“I started to feel like I was going against my morals by working for a place like that,” she said.

Late last year, Dinis and other employees were asked to help pack up and move from Newtown to Waterbury. There were signs on the door saying they were evicted.

“If you’re having problems and you can’t pay your employees, don’t keep them working if you can’t pay them,” Dinis said. “Number two, apologize, explain (the situation) to us.”

Dinis and others were given temporary layoffs, then layoffs because Telesco couldn’t pay them.

Telesco said, “We had some checks that were supposed to come in from the state that didn’t come in and it made our payroll back up and it got late and we promised everyone their pay at a certain time and we gave it to them.”

He admits there are a few who are still owed some money. Dinis said she’s owed about 30 hours. Telesco said the move to Waterbury cost more than $40,000.

News 8 has learned from Newtown town officials that Telesco’s eviction had nothing to do with zoning violations for selling furniture seven days a week.

The property manager says Telesco didn’t pay rent for almost two years and that was after the first year’s rent was free. News 8 has also learned that he was collecting money by subletting parts of the same property he himself wasn’t paying rent for.

So, employees like Dinis and at least three others who’ve contacted News 8 question how he plans on opening the doors in Waterbury?

“We’re trying to open the doors,” Telesco said. “As soon as we open the doors, we’ll have money for them.”

News 8 spoke with Dinis Wednesday afternoon and she tells us after we called the department of labor about this case, she got her money in a matter of days.

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