Pool contractor accused of defrauding homeowners out $1M-plus sentenced to 18 years in prison

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A judge sentenced Ricardo Villaroel Duerto to 18 years in prison for allegedly defrauding homeowners across Florida out of more than a million dollars.

Duerto, owner of Villa Pavers and Pools, and three others were initially charged with racketeering, a scheme to defraud, and grand theft and faced up to 30 years in prison.

Court documents reveal a pattern of customers paying thousands in down payments for backyard pools that were never completed. An affidavit lists victims in Winter Garden, Sanford, Clermont, Kissimmee, and Orlando.

Victims reported shoddy work, including holes dug in their backyards and abandoned construction equipment. Calls to the pool company were never returned.

An ex-employee told investigators that Villaroel took money from Orlando customers to fund jobs in the West Palm Beach area and vice versa.

Experts advise homeowners to always check a company’s license online, ask for references, read reviews, and contact the Better Business Bureau before hiring a contractor.