On a hot, sticky, Texas day in Montgomery County, instead of swimming in the new pool she paid tens of thousands of dollars for, Jacquelyn Hieber sweeps up the debris around this ugly, stinking, cement hole that’s now in her backyard.
It’s what her pool contractor left her with after promising her a beautiful backyard oasis.
“Resting on the ground is rebar, broken pipes and mosquitos everywhere. It’s a mess,” Jacquelyn said.
Yes, this is what Jaquelyn has had to live with after paying pool builder Mark Mills and his St. Croix Custom Pools company $70,000.
“He stole the money out of my hand and then vanished,” Jacquelyn said.
Russell and Beth Desilletts paid the same man more than $54,000 for a dream pool that also turned into a disaster.
”It ate us alive. It really did. I thought I was going to have a heart attack over this,” Russell said.
Now, more than a year later, Nancy Hebert with the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the pool contractor for taking a total of $1.7 million from more than 40 of his customers.
“Every day when they get up in the morning and look out their back porch and they’re supposed to see this beautiful shining pool, but instead they get a daily reminder of how they’re being screwed,” Nancy said.
Now, suddenly, rather than go to trial, Mills has pleaded guilty as part of a plea bargain to the felony crime of misapplication of fiduciary duty, which carries a punishment of up to life in prison.
Nancy, the prosecutor in the case, calls it a well-deserved punishment for what he’s done.
“These people are real people. These are real dreams they had and he turned those dreams into nightmares,” Nancy said.