TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Hillary Bello, owner of the now-shuttered Cox Pools of the Gulf Coast, was taken into custody by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office last month.
The sheriff’s office charged Bello with one count of contractor fraud. According to the sheriff’s office, a victim paid more than $54,000 for a pool that wasn’t finished.
That has customers in Hillsborough County wondering about their cases.
“It was I who put them out of business, first in Hillsborough County, and when I saw that report, I go, “Wait a minute, what about us? There’s so many people who’ve been hurt,” said Wes Gadsden, a Valrico customer.
It was Gadsden’s pool and what the county called “electrical life safety issues” that led to the action. Gadsden says he and his husband paid $53,000 in full to Cox Pools and then when the company abandoned the job he had to pay another $48,000 to other companies to fix mistakes and finish the work.
Customers of Cox Pools of the Gulf Coast turned to Better Call Behnken for help earlier last year. In February, Hillsborough County officials suspended the company’s permitting privileges. Bello told Behnken at the time that she would finish all 50 pools in Hillsborough County.
Then, in September, the company’s phone was disconnected and the website was taken down.
Back then, both the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Attorney General’s Office said they were looking into customer complaints.
Bello was released hours after her arrest. Her bond was listed at $7,500.