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Proposed legislation will aim to close legal gap after several Minnesota families lose savings to pool contractor

1 July 2022

MINNEAPOLIS — A WCCO investigation has sparked state action to protect your money and property.        

We introduced you to several families who paid for a backyard pool and have nothing to show for the tens of thousands of dollars paid.

Our reports drew attention from the attorney general’s office, and now from law enforcement and lawmakers.

RELATED: “Our yard is ruined”: More than a dozen Minnesota families say pool contractor took their money, left them in the lurch

Family after family told WCCO how they sacrificed and saved, and spent their life savings to build a place for their family to spend time together. And they shared their anguish when they didn’t get what they paid for.

As a result of our investigation, a lawmaker says he’ll propose a bill to close the legal gap, to try to prevent this from happening to another family.

Republican State Rep. Jim Nash represents part of Carver County, a county where several families accuse pool contractor Charles Workman of taking their money and not delivering on the pool.

“This is one of those issues that’s not a partisan issue, it’s a holy crap, something bad happened, we have to go fix it,” Nash said.

There are more than a dozen more across the metro, all together out more than $1 million.

“Your hire someone who you think is going to do a good job and then they come and the dig a partial hole in your backyard and ghost you for weeks and months. That got me pretty upset,” Nash said.

WCCO’s investigation into the unfinished work exposed a legal gap in Minnesota statute.  Contractors with one specialty don’t need a license. That means families don’t have access to a state recovery fund if something with a pool project goes wrong.

We questioned that, and now Nash is, too.

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CBS

“This really is a legislative action that needs to take place. I’m typically one of the last people who are quick to draw on creating a new piece of legislation, but I think this is a good opportunity to prevent things like this from happening in the future, for future families,” Nash said.

RELATED: More Minnesota homeowners accuse pool contractor of unfinished work

He plans to propose closing the legal gap to protect Minnesota families.

“This individual seems to be a bit of an opportunist, but what I know is if there’s one, there’s probably 10,” Nash said.

He intends to talk with stakeholders ahead of the next legislative session to draft legislation that would give families ways to legally and financially address alleged fraud.

“You hear these things and you think OK, I don’t know if I can fix all of it, but I can make it harder for someone to defraud the next couple of families,” Nash said.

Nash says the goal is to protect consumers.

“Yeah, it’s just that simple. It’s just that simple,” Nash said.

In addition to proposed legislation, we’ve learned at least one county attorney is working with impacted families, the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office and law enforcement.

RELATED: AG Keith Ellison to probe pool contractor highlighted in WCCO investigation

WCCO is told the office will review any investigative reports they get to consider criminal charges.

The Attorney General’s Office said if you suspect fraud with Charles Workman, it wants to hear from you.  

The number to call is: 651-296-3353. Here’s a link to fill out a fraud complaint online.

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