TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Some customers of Cox Pools of the Gulf Coast say the owner has suddenly reemerged, with a peculiar offer to finish their abandoned pools.
This comes after the company phones were disconnected in September, and in December the owner was arrested and charged with one count of consumer fraud in Manatee County.
Better Call Behnken first reported the company’s troubles last February. Hillsborough County had suspended the company’s permitting privileges citing, “life and safety issues” on one job. Company owner Hillary Bello said then that she would finish the 50 pools she’d already started in Hillsborough County.
When phones were disconnected in September, some consumers said they were left high and dry. Some customers say since the arrest, Bello reached out offering to finish their pools, if they put the permit in their own names. Bello said she would then pay subcontractors directly.
She emailed one customer saying, “I am reaching out to see if you finished your pool? I still have you on my list for completion and while things are moving slowly, I am still completing projects as contracted.”
In a follow-up email, Bello wrote, “My company is still very much open and I am completing pools each and every month.”
Hillsborough County officials had a different take. County officials said Bello’s plan would be “unlicensed contracting.” County officials said Bello is not a licensed contractor and her general contractor’s license for her company is currently delinquent and she cannot finish the contracts, even if she hires subs directly.