Contractor

Two Okanagan families left in financial hole after contractor allegedly skips town

Two Okanagan families are in a financial and literal hole after a pool contractor allegedly took their money and skipped town.

“We hired a contractor back in late May, he came in and did all the excavation work,” said Steve Croxford, a Kelowna resident.

“He told us he had all the permits in place to get going.”

However, the contractor had no permits, according to the city.

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It’s a case of buyer beware after Stephana Johnson and her neighbour Steve Croxford found what they thought was ‘a great deal’ after finding a pool contractor on Facebook.

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They decided to hire the same contractor to build both of their pools in neighbouring yards.

What happened soon after construction began was a shock.

“That’s where he’s abandoned it basically, we paid him approximately half of the money for the pool,” said Croxford.

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The two families said they hired a man who calls himself Jared or J-Hay and his company Pyramid Pools.

The pool contractor promised them two finished underground pools within four weeks — it’s now been almost four months.

Global News talked to multiple pool companies in Kelowna who say they’ve heard of this fly-by-night pool contractor who’s left multiple people high and dry.

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Shortly after the alleged fraudster skipped out on the job, the city sent an inspector to their properties.

They issued a cease work order on Aug. 1st and the property owners say the city demanded a 71,000 dollar bond and ordered them to remove the massive dirt pile that was left on city property.

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Before Contractor Billed TARC For No Work, She Worked For MSD Director

A scathing report released last week revealed widespread misspending and sexual misconduct at Louisville’s public transit agency. Much of the report focused on then-executive director Ferdinand Risco’s relationship with a contractor who was paid more than $228,000 for no demonstrable work. 

That contractor previously worked for another top city official: Tony Parrott, the executive director of the Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District. When he worked in Cincinnati, Parrott paid the same contractor $3 million over five years, a deal one city councilman at the time called “unconscionable.” 

This is not a coincidence: Parrott introduced the contractor to Risco.

The referral came just months after an Ohio state audit revealed Parrott had misspent more than $750,000 on bloated, often unnecessary contracts during his time running Cincinnati MSD.

Risco was fired in February after sexual assault and harassment allegations from staff came to light.

The contractor that worked with Risco at TARC was not named in the report because she has accused him of sexual assault. But her attorney confirmed her identity, and the report makes it fairly clear who she is: the same woman who Parrott worked with closely for over a decade in Cincinnati. 

In a brief response to emailed questions, Parrott downplayed his role in connecting Risco and the contractor, saying it was simply a referral. He did not offer more details on why he would refer this specific contractor to TARC, or what services he thought she would be best suited to provide. 

Jean Porter, a spokesperson for Mayor Greg Fischer, also dismissed the concern, saying Parrott advised Fischer’s office that all he did was introduce Risco and the contractor at a “water equity task force meeting” years ago.

But the contractor told TARC investigators that Parrott was the one who initially reached out to her about an

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Feds:HISD executive took kickbacks from landscaping contractor

The feds say HISD Chief Operating Officer Brian Busby conspired with a landscaping contractor in exchange for “cash kickbacks.”

HOUSTON — Federal prosecutors are accusing a former high-ranking Houston ISD official of taking kickbacks from a district contractor, according to a newly filed court document n the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

The civil forfeiture complaint sheds light on why federal agents were at the Cypress home of HISD’s Chief Operating Officer in late February. They seized $90,150 from Brian Busby’s home, alleging that the school district COO conspired with an unnamed district landscaping contractor to approve proposals submitted by the contractor and to pay that business for work that it did not perform. 

Federal prosecutors also allege that, at times, HISD employees performed some of the work, often at overtime rates.

So far, nobody has been charged with a crime, but “in order to share the criminal proceeds the Contractor obtained from the fraud, the Contractor paid kickbacks to C.O.O. Busby, including cash kickbacks,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristine Rollinson wrote in the court filing.

RELATED: FBI conducting ‘court authorized law enforcement activity’ at HISD’s headquarters

The document also states the contractor would sometimes write checks from his business account to subcontractors, and have them cash the check and return most of the cash to the contractor. After Busby met with the contractor, he allegedly would structure multiple cash deposits into various bank accounts Busby controlled, according to the court filing.

Federal agents also seized more than $95,000 from the unnamed contractor.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office would not comment on the civil forfeiture or speculate on any possible criminal charges.

Attempts to reach Brian Busby for comment were not successful. An HISD spokesperson provided the following statement:

“HISD is not a party to

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Defining ‘Contractor’ Status Would Provide Some Relief for Workers

A new rule proposed by the Department of Labor could bring partial relief to businesses struggling to stay afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic fallout. It could also help millions of workers who are straining to maintain their livelihoods or attempting to find new ones.

For the first time in more than 80 years since the enactment of the Fair Labor Standards Act, a new proposed rule seeks to provide clarity on the definition of an “independent contractor” for general industry.

>>> What’s the best way for America to reopen and return to business? The National Coronavirus Recovery Commission, a project of The Heritage Foundation, assembled America’s top thinkers to figure that out. So far, it has made more than 260 recommendations. Learn more here.

This is important because it can be difficult for businesses to differentiate between employers and contractors, and extremely costly if they make the wrong determination.

As Labor Department Secretary Eugene Scalia noted, “Employers and workers looking for guidance have had to parse the sometimes-divergent decisions of the federal courts of appeals, and opinion letters the Labor Department issues occasionally without public notice or input.”

Ambiguity about how to classify workers can result in high administrative costs and cause fear and uncertainty for employers who risk costly lawsuits that could destroy their entire business if they make the wrong determination.

Fines and penalties for misclassifying workers can include back payroll tax payments, over 40% of the misclassified workers’ wages for up to three years, and, if the misclassification is determined to be intentional, up to $500,000 in fines and a year in prison.

It’s not just a difference in payments that separates employees from contractors. Employers could be on the hook for many other violations, such as: not properly documenting a worker’s hours, neglecting to

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Military contractor charged with fraud on Africa contracts

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A U.S. military contractor has been indicted in California for allegedly faking quality control on construction projects in Africa that were so badly done some buildings collapsed, including an aircraft hangar, authorities said Tuesday.

Micheline Pollock was named in a 98-count indictment by a federal grand jury in San Diego, the U.S. attorney’s office for Southern California said in a statement.

Pollock was chief executive officer of Dover Vantage, which between 2011 and 2018 won contracts from the Army Corps of Engineers and Navy Facilities Engineering Command for military and humanitarian projects in Africa. They included a maternity ward and a school for the deaf in Togo.


Pollock and others in the company allegedly submitted fraudulent quality-control plans that included résumés of fictitious employees; certified quality control work that was never performed; faked concrete strength test results; and made claims for construction that was never performed or didn’t meet requirements.

“Many of the structures constructed by Dover Vantage were so poorly constructed that they collapsed, including the aircraft hangar in Niger and a training facility in Senegal,” the U.S. attorney’s office statement said. “Most of the other structures constructed by Dover Vantage are now unusable.”

The military has had to reissue contracts, repair damaged buildings and reduce operating capacity, the statement said.

Pollock was arrested on Sep. 22 in Tbilisi, Georgia and remains in custody in that country while awaiting extradition, authorities said.

It wasn’t immediately clear if she had an attorney who could speak on her behalf.

The case is the first involving the Africa Strike Force, an anti-corruption initiative based in Southern California, the U.S. attorney’s office statement said.

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