Federal agencies step in to investigate pool contractors’ work first revealed by WCCO
MINNEAPOLIS– New information in an ongoing WCCO investigation. The US Attorney’s Office and the FBI are now leading the criminal investigation into a swimming pool contractor.
Charles Workman isto take tens of thousands of dollars from Minnesota families and not finish the job. There is a major update in the civil investigation filed by the state attorney general.
say they were duped by Workman, a contractor they hired to build a swimming pool. Backyards have been torn apart with gaping holes left behind. Work on the promised pools was left unfinished or did not start at all.
“He destroyed my garden, cut my patio, broke my fence and took my money,” Kyle Swenson said.
The strain on families is impossible to fully calculate.
“Now it’s time to get away from my family because I’m doing extra things to earn more money on the side. And it doesn’t stop there. Every day is extra stress, for my family, for me, whatever my plans are,” Swenson said.
AfterWorkman took more than $1 million collectively from more than a dozen Minnesota families and gave up the jobs, Attorney General Keith Ellison civilly him in August.
“It is [a] deceptive business practice. It’s fraud, it’s morally wrong but it’s also illegal,” Ellison said in August.
Workman did not respond to any of the legal documents, so Ellison’s office filed what is called a default motion for judgment without Workman showing up. The accompanying documents ask a judge to declare his actions illegal, saying his “plan was extremely deceptive and designed to repeatedly victimize the same consumers.”
He is also asking to rule in favor of the victims and return their money, paying a total of $2.26 million in restitution and civil penalties in addition to paying state legal fees and court costs. He is also asking the judge to order Workman never to work in the construction industry in Minnesota again.
“We hope that’s sort of the starting point. In the long run criminal would be the ideal outcome, but anything civil just to have a win, to have something to say like, ‘That’s what we went through,'” Swenson told me.
On top of that, WCCO discovered at the same time that Workman had promised to do the work in Minnesota, he was renting Airbnbs in Kentucky. Two people are suing him and his new company for non-payment of rent. Civil lawsuits accuse Workman of skipping nearly $10,000 in one case, $5,000 in the other. And they note that Workman said “they will pay” and “we have the money” but never showed it.
“It’s the same story, it’s the same actions and he literally keeps getting away with it in different situations. It’s hard to watch,” Swenson said.
Workman has a previous criminal conviction in his home state of Kentucky for theft by deception.
He has a current license to work in Kentucky, but WCCO has been advised that it is being reviewed.
WCCO contacted Workman through the contact information he provided for working in Kentucky. We haven’t heard from him. He is due in court in the civil case with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office later this month.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has not commented.