MIAMI, FL – Miguel Pacheco deals in the business of dreams. For just a few thousand dollars, he’ll convert a regular old truck into a food truck, or so he says. Customers of Don’t Stop Believing Fabrication Corp., aka DSB Fabrication, hoped to launch their own restaurant on wheels, joining the popular niche industry that has exploded with its low price of entry and enthusiastic customer base.

Plenty of people have taken him up on this offer, but some have definitely Stopped Believing, either in Pacheco or the notion of consumer protection in South Florida. Barry Cohen says he had to hound Pacheco for months and call the cops before he could get his truck back, unfinished. After a long, frustrating saga, Melani Romero saw her 1985 Chevy step van sold to another woman. That woman, Chelita Smith, through no fault of her own, ended up a co-defendant in Romero’s subsequent lawsuit against Pacheco.

Shelette Buchanan is the latest disgruntled customer. She moved from Wisconsin to Port St. Lucie to be closer to her brother, James, and to share her Chicago-style hot dogs — piled high with tomato wedges, chopped white onions, sport peppers and pickle spears and generously slathered with mustard — with a new market. She has yet to dispense the first dog from that still-undelivered truck.

None of them knew until it was too late who they were dealing with. Pacheco was declared by a Miami-Dade court to be a “habitual felony offender.” His record shows 15 arrests, most on multiple counts, for larceny, grand theft, forgery, fraud and conducting business without a license. He served prison time in 2005 for writing worthless checks and he and his son/business associate have a trail of bankruptcies, lawsuits, a foreclosure and various liens and court judgments.

In the buyer-beware world of South Florida, Don’t Stop Believing Fabrication is a cautionary tale, exemplifying what can go wrong when business is conducted on the basis of a handshake and a smile.

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