The operator of a Twin Cities company cheated clients out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in down payments by falsely pledging to install in-ground swimming pools, then spent some of the money on casino gambling, child support and a horse and saddle, according to a newly unsealed federal indictment.
Charles R. Workman, 37, who owned MN Crete Pools, a Prior Lake company that marketed pools throughout the Twin Cities area, was charged in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis with four counts of wire fraud in connection with the scheme that enriched him by more than $750,000 in 2021 and 2022.
Workman was arrested Monday in Nashville, appeared in federal court and has a hearing in Minnesota scheduled for April 10. Court records do not list an attorney for him.
Until recently, Workman lived on a 9-acre spread in Prior Lake. The 4,200-square-foot home includes an in-ground heated pool in the back yard and a horse stable, the real estate listing noted.
The property sold late last year for $876,000, according to county property records. Workman's estranged wife, Jennifer Workman, told the Star Tribune that they defaulted on the loan, were evicted and made no money from the sale.
According to the charges:
Workman would collect down payments and promise to install a pool that same year, but then fail to complete the project. At times, he told multiple clients he only had one more spot on his construction schedule as inducement for them to make a down payment.
Workman gave clients various reasons for their project's delay including the COVID-19 pandemic, the weather or equipment shortages.
The scheme allowed Workman to make $3,000 in child support payments, spend $18,000 at a casino and more than $6,000 on a horse and saddle.
The Minnesota Attorney General's Office won a judgment in January of more than $1.1 million after suing Workman last summer for using "deception and falsehood" through his scheme to dupe 17 Minnesota families he signed up for pool projects that he failed to complete or even start.
Workman also operated other businesses related to concrete, according to state records. The Better Business Bureau received several complaints about MPLS Concrete Restoration that allege Workman collected deposits for projects that were never begun or finished, or were about the work being done poorly.
"Charlie came to my house and a contract was signed for the total amount $8,000" for a driveway, read one complaint filed in November 2021. "Informed them and sent pictures of concrete flaking and peeling. During this entire experience I have numerous texts saying how they will be here to do the work and never showed up."