From Massachusetts to Florida, bad actor swimming pool contractors are damaging the reputation of the pool and spa industry.
Since the onset of summer, at least five contractors have been arrested, charged with scamming their customers out of thousands of dollars. Most were arrested mid-June.
Rick McDermott, Aqua Blue Pools, Roswell, Georgia, said his business simply couldn’t survive the pandemic and had declared bankruptcy prior to his June arrest. “It just got crazy there with the economy, with COVID, shortages, price demands,” McDermott explained in a text to customers. “To be honest, what happened to me is I couldn't adjust my pricing fast enough to make up for the increases.”
He was arrested on June 14, charged with conversion of payments for real property improvements. His company, Aqua Blue Pools, has been in the news for not completing pool projects.
A Facebook page has been set up for the victims of Aqua Blue to stay up to date on his proceedings. At least five families say they have lost a total of about $300,000.
David Greiner, owner of Platinum Pools and Spas LLC in Largo, Florida, was arrested on June 15 and booked into the Pinellas County Jail with a bond set at $57,000. Greiner, 39, faces six counts of grand theft and three counts of money received by a contractor, records show.
After launching their six-monthlong investigation, detectives learned that nine complaints were linked to Platinum Pools and Spas and Greiner. Customers said they paid Greiner for new swimming pools, but no work was performed.
The sheriff's office said, in total, the customers lost $311,329. Detectives spoke with Greiner about his customers’ complaints during his arrest and said “Greiner refused to take ownership or admit any wrongdoing. Greiner blamed the victims for being ‘difficult and conspiring against him,’” according to a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office statement.
Douglas Carney, 56, owner of Carney Pools in Topeka, Kansas, was arrested on June 16 on a Jackson County District Court warrant. According to a press release, the warrant was issued following an investigation by the Jackson County Sheriff ’s Office for two felony counts of theft by deception and one count of deceptive commercial practices. A Jackson County resident reported that, through a series of contracts, Carney allegedly agreed to complete the construction of a swimming pool at their property. Carney never completed any of the work, and he allegedly discontinued his communication with the victim after taking their money.
Michael Nanay, of Mad Pools, Lake County, Indiana, was also arrested in mid-June and charged with five felonies, including theft and home improvement fraud. The Lake County Sheriff’s Department said it is investigating 15 cases linked to the contractor and believe more victims could be out there.
Nanay pleaded not guilty to the charges and told reporters that he was trying to finish the pools and work with people as best he can. According to ABC7 Eyewitness News, “he said he had a stroke last year, which left him partially blind, and said his employees took off while he was in the hospital.”
Steve Docchio, owner of Xtreme Living Pools and Construction Plymouth, Massachusetts, is the most recent case, arrested on July 18. Charges against him include larceny, home improvement contractor violations, tax evasion, money laundering, and pandemic unemployment fraud. The indictment estimates the amount of stolen money at $500,000. Docchio was made infamous after a New England NBC affiliate decided to put him at the center of their investigation and featured him in their docu-series, “To Catch a Contractor.” At his July arraignment, he pled not guilty to the charges, and after growing frustrated at having to remain silent in court, fired his public defender before launching his criticism at the NBC coverage that he said led to his troubles.
'This is all brought up on lies and allegations by Mr. Media,' Docchio said. “This prosecutor, all his storytelling, is just an opera. He's got a lot of proving to do. No money was taken.”