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Minnesota Attorney General's office sues pool contractor following WCCO investigation

MINNEAPOLIS — A WCCO investigation gets action. The Attorney General’s office is now suing the pool contractor who took tens of thousands of dollars from Minnesota families and didn’t finish the work.

The civil lawsuit filed Thursday alleges fraud and deception by Charles, or Charlie, Workman. WCCO first shared in June how families paid Workman and his company MN Crete Pools for a backyard pool. He took their money, then abandoned the job.

As WCCO’s Jennifer Mayerle reports, the suit aims to compensate victims, and prevent Workman from doing this again.

The families have one thing in common: they all paid Workman for a backyard pool that was never finished.

“Homeowners and people giving their lifesavings, their dreams,” Chaska homeowner David Olson said.

They say Workman talked them into signing on with him for a rare open spot when other contractors were booked, sold them on a short timeline, promised discounts, and took tens of thousands of dollars.

“We sold stuff, you know, I mean, we gave him everything we had,” New Prague homeowner Cassie Kieffer said.

Workman failed to start many jobs, in other cases, he’d leave a gaping hole behind, and unfinished work.

“We have facts now of him saying the exact same stories and timelines to different people, proving there was no intent,” Chanhassen homeowner Kyle Swenson said.  

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CBS

The Attorney General’s office filed a civil lawsuit against Workman and MN Crete Pools.

“This is deceptive trade practice, this is fraud, this is, it’s morally wrong but it’s also illegal,” said Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. “There are just a whole bunch of victims that he has left out there.”

The lawsuit alleges Workman mispresented and misled consumers, used a deceptive sales model, fraudulently and deceptively lured MN Crete Pools’ customers into paying tens of thousands of dollars in advanced payments which were often not yet due, and has taken more than $1 million total from at least 17 families. Workman was previously criminally convicted of theft by deception in Kentucky.

“His scam is fairly simple. He is a person who has a personal ability to persuade, he represented himself as a pool builder, he would get money up front, as much as he could, and in some cases he would just ghost people,” Ellison said.

Ellison said there’s a pattern, and he’s not going to let him get away with it.

“Mr. Workman is going to have to answer, he’s going to have to compensate his victims, he’s going to be held accountable,” Ellison said.

MORE: Landscaper steps in to fill hole left behind by pool contractor accused of unfinished work

Families out money are relieved their calls for help are being heard, and being acted upon.

“We’re happy that there’s movement, we’re excited that there’s movement, there’s been a lot of anger, bitterness, tears,” Buffalo homeowner Adam Salonek said.

“You do feel proud having been able to speak up, be the voice, be the fuel, the wheels,” Swenson said.

So far Workman has not replied to our call, text or email for a comment on the suit. And we learned why: he’s currently in jail in Kentucky on a fraud warrant out of Indiana.

Pool contractors aren’t required to be licensed by the state, preventing customers from accessing the state contractor recovery fund.

Since WCCO started investigating Workman, a state lawmaker has proposed closing that gap in the law.


Source: CBS Minnesota

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