Pool contractor remains in jail, accused of running off with customers’ money

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – A Pinellas County pool contractor, in hot water for running off with tens of thousands in customers’ money, remains in jail tonight.

A Pinellas County judge denied Fortenbery’s bail when she was arrested last week for a fifth time, of charges of grand theft and unlicensed contracting. She was in court again Tuesday for a counsel status update.

She told the court she has spoken with a new attorney to represent her on these new charges but has not yet retained the attorney.

Fortenbery, of Pinellas Marcite Finishers, was arrested Thursday afternoon by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, and then released on $1,200 bond five hours later.

This is after a growing list of disgruntled customers turned to Better Call Behnken saying Fortenbery took their money and didn’t deliver. Many of those customers said they were delighted to hear of the arrest and then upset to hear that she posted bond.

“To me, there’s no difference in someone coming up and putting a gun to my back,” said customer Robert Smalley. “Except instead of a gun, they used an ink pen.”

Fortenbery currently faces a total of 13 charges. There are other customer complaints still under criminal investigation.

Fortenbery has been featured in several Better Call Behnken reports detailing a growing list of customers who accuse her running off with thousands of dollars and not finishing their pools.

Fortenbery was arrested on similar charges in 2016 and 2018 and she was convicted of unlicensed contracting in 2000.

Some customers say law enforcement told them this was a civil matter. Well, that changed after 8 On Your Side showed a pattern that became way too frequent.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s office arrested had been investigating a couple of cases, and Pinellas Consumer Protection had 12 more.

While this arrest is surprising for a 65-year old woman, it is nothing new for Fortenbery. She was arrested in 2016 on similar charges, then again in 2018 for the same thing.

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