SPRING, Texas (KETK) — A man in the Spring and Conroe area was arrested after being accused of taking money from families to work on their pools without finishing the work, according to our NBC affiliate KPRC.
Darren Cook was arrested and charged with second degree felony theft for defrauding multiple families out of more than $150,000.
“He basically preys on vulnerable residents out here,” said Constable Mark Herman, Harris County Precinct 4. “He starts the work, leaves a big hole in their back yard and tries to vanish.”
Alleged victims told investigators that Cook “presented himself as a professional and a dedicated father and devoted Christian.”
One family told KPRC that they lost tens of thousands of dollars after hiring Cook to put an in-ground fiberglass pool at their house. They wanted the pool installed just in time for their son’s induction into the U.S. Navy, Tenille Nosworthy-Brice said.
“I told him, our son was leaving for the Navy and we wanted it by July 4th. We were going to have a big party,” said Nosworthy-Brice.
The family said that they decided to hire Cook because he was the cheapest of the three that they found. Tenille and Patrick said that Cook’s estimate was about $10,000 cheaper than the others, but he demanded a $22,900 down payment which totaled almost half the cost of the job.
They say he then demanded another $11,000 on the first day workers dug a huge hole.
“We paid him a little over $34,000 thousand dollars altogether,” said Brice.
A mother from Conroe said that she paid Cook $50,000 for a fiberglass pool that would be a Christmas gift to her two children, but more than a year later she told KPRC that she is paying thousands of dollars to have other contractors finish the job.
“The pool I paid for is not the pool that I got,” said England. “The actual shell is not level, it has a lot of damage to it. So basically, I had to pay for everything twice, cause I paid him and then I paid someone else.”
Investigators believe that there may be others who hired Cook and were left with unfinished work.
Herman says Darren Cook’s next court appearance takes place next month and he expects more cases will be filed by that time.