On Thursday, Montgomery County Judge Michalk sentenced Mark Mills to 10 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He was charged on August 15, 2021, with misapplication of fiduciary property after bilking 40 customers out of close to $1.7 million for swimming pools he never finished. The Judge did give him credit for 284 days which he had already spent in jail. According to court documents, there are more than a dozen victims outside of Montgomery County who could still file claims if they were not involved in the original case. According to Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Nancy Hebert, Mills was probation eligible, however, if he was not able to pay restitution to his victims that option was not on the table. She said, “he is going to prison for 10 years, perhaps that will provide an opportunity to develop some remorse for how he treated these people. ” She also said, “some had to take out loans to finish their pools; some dipped into retirement; many dealt with sub-contractors who were never paid and threatened to have liens placed on their homes. This crime is a consumer protection statute that actually has some teeth to it when a contractor fails to follow the safeguards provided for within the statute.” In searching records, MCPR discovered that he owns property in San Jacinto County which he has listed as a homestead. That 69 acres along with a 1927 square foot home is for sale at $875,000 and was just dropped from $975,000 last month but was originally listed in June of 2022 for $1,199,900.
PROPERTY MILLS HAS LISTED FOR SALE
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.