EDGEWATER, Fla. - The Volusia County Sheriff's Office has launched a fraud investigation into a local pool builder after several customers have complained about the contractor taking their money without finishing their pools.
James "Jimmy" Griffin, 40, is the president of Aquatic Daze Custom Pools and Spas, a Port Orange-based business that has been in operation since 2007, state records show.
Griffin, who holds an active state certification as a pool contractor, has been accused of failing to complete several pool construction projects after doing only minimal on-site work.
A News 6 reporter stopped by Griffin's home seeking comment for this story. When Griffin approached the reporter on the street, he denied being the contractor and drove away in his truck without discussing his pool business.
Griffin also did not respond to a message left with his parents, who live at a home in Port Orange that Griffin uses as his company's mailing address.
"We saved and budgeted money to finally get our dream pool. It was supposed to be a Christmas pool," Mary Kay Steflik said. "We signed the contract in August. And nothing was happening. He kept having excuses."
Steflik said she and her husband paid Griffin $21,000 but claims he only moved a buried cable, relocated some concrete footers and assisted another worker with laying rebar.
"He didn't even dig a hole or anything," Steflik said. "He probably only came over four or five times total and would work for maybe an hour to two hours. And the whole time he was texting on his phone."
Steflik said Griffin stopped visiting their home and responding to their phone calls in December.
Another customer, James Rothholz, said he last heard from Griffin in November, after paying the contractor more than $30,000 to build a backyard pool.
"I consider myself a pretty good judge of character, but, boy I blew it on this one," said Rothholz, who signed a contract with Aquatic Daze Pools in July.
According to Rothholz, Griffin dug the hole for the pool, installed rebar and hired a subcontractor to spray concrete gunite.
Rothholz claims the pool contractor vanished before plumbing installation was to begin.
"He said, 'I'll be back tomorrow. I'm going to work all day.' But we never saw him," Rothholz said. "I kept leaving text messages, and he stopped responding."
The gunite subcontractor placed a lien on Rothholz's property after claiming Griffin failed to pay him more than $5,500 for the job.
Rothholz later hired a different pool contractor to finish the swimming pool.
"We had to pay for this thing twice," he said. "A $35,000 job has turned into almost $70,000."
Rothholz has filed a complaint with Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation, hoping the state licensing agency will suspend or revoke Griffin's certification.
He and Steflik have also filed complaints with law enforcement agencies.
Griffin is currently facing criminal charges in an unrelated matter.
In December, Volusia County sheriff's deputies arrested Griffin and two other men after investigators said the agency's helicopter captured video of them using grinders and paint to conceal the vehicle identification numbers on three stolen utility trailers.
Griffin has pleaded not guilty to charges of grand theft, evidence tampering and possession of vehicles with altered VINs.
At least two customers of Griffin's pool business have filed lawsuits in Volusia County court, claiming the contractor failed to finish their jobs.
Steflik and Rothholz are also considering legal action.
"We thought we could trust him," Steflik said. "We saw some of the work he did, and we were just fooled, like so many other people."
"If nothing else, I'm hopeful his name will get out there, and people will remember the name and they won't get caught up in this, like we have," Rothholz said. "Just beware. Beware."
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