Even after many years, sometimes it just seems like the right time to get out of a business. And for Dick & Caren Lobo, owners of Sarasota News & Books, the time was now. So they started the process of looking for someone to buy their property.
Little did they know that things would get, shall we say, rather complicated. And bizarre:
The Lobos, who, in addition to selling their bookstore were also looking to relinquish the prime piece of commercial real estate that houses Sarasota News & Books, had thought they’d found the ideal buyer in an out-of-towner named Thomas Coelho. Brought in on the deal by a local and, according to Lobo, well-respected, real estate broker named Derek Filcoff, Coelho was looking to buy the bookstore and the accompanying building with his partner, Randall Bono. After doing some research, the Lobos found that Bono was a well known attorney who lived in Sarasota; they found nothing on Coelho. The deal nonetheless proceeded as expectedâ€¦until a strange note arrived at the bookstore.
The note, which was actually a reprint of a 1999 story from The Hartford Advocate aptly titled “The Art of the Con,” discussed at length the suspect maneuvers of a local man named Thomas Jurewicz. Since the article also featured pictures of Jurewicz, it was immediately clear to the Lobos that Jurewicz was indeed their new buyer, Thomas Coelho. Armed with this new information, the Lobos, along with their lawyers, confronted Coelho and Filcoff via conference call. “At that point we didn’t know who we were dealing with,” Caren said. After speaking with the pair, and listening to Filcoff vouch for his partner (who, the Lobos were told, was repentant about his past and had changed his name to put his misdeeds behind him), the husband-and-wife team decided to move ahead with the deal.
Caren, who said the pair had kept their word up until that point (and had also delivered a sizeable closing fee), believed Coelho and Filcoff and decided that the Advocate article was speaking about past trespasses. That all changed when, the following day, The Sarasota Herald-Tribune ran a story about how the Lobos were selling their bookstore to man who had a warrant (for grand larceny) out for his arrest.
But, as PW Daily’s Rachel Deahl further reports, a happy ending is in sight, as Andrew and Meghan Foley have signed on as the newest owners of Sarasota News & Book. The deal closed last week and the Foleys take official ownership of the store on December 1.