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Families feeling some relief after AG works to collect funds for those who paid for, but never got swimming pools

AG works to collect funds for those scammed out of thousands
AG works to collect funds for those scammed out of thousands 02:45

MINNEAPOLIS — A man who is accused of taking money for pools he never built could soon have a plea deal. More than a dozen Minnesota families are out thousands of dollars

Charles Workman pleaded not guilty when criminally charged with wire fraud in federal court following a WCCO investigation. 

As part of a civil case in Minnesota, Workman was ordered to pay more than a million dollars in restitution. That money has yet to come, but WCCO Senior Investigative Reporter Jennifer Mayerle shares how some families are getting relief.

"I mean, our dream is to still open these curtains and look at a pool someday," Kyle Swenson said.

The Swensons are one of more than a dozen metro families who say they paid Workman for a backyard swimming pool and never got it. 

The civil default judgment against the contractor gave them hope but with it came waiting and more stress as the attorney general's office worked on getting money back for families through their lenders.  

"And it took a few months. It was a battle," Swenson said.


Swenson says the Maryland-based credit union didn't make the path to partial loan forgiveness easy.

"We were back and forth constantly with our vendor, they were fighting it tooth and nail," Swenson said.

Ultimately, it forgave two-thirds of Swenson's loan, meaning they no longer have to make payments on it. 

"It literally felt like a payday. We've been paying this loan every month, a very large sum of money to have nothing. So when that payment hit that bank account, we could see that balance shrink. It was a breath of fresh air. It was a weight off our back. It was the biggest win we could imagine," Swenson said. 

Another family had $25,000 forgiven from the same credit union. Add that to two other families with loans forgiven last summer. But there's more patiently waiting for their turn.

"We are considering ourselves part of the lucky ones because there's families in this group of us, victims, that used military funds, they used inheritances," Swenson said.

Swenson wants Workman to be held accountable with restitution to the families who sacrificed and saved and are out of funds. While his family is closer to being made whole, he feels loan forgiveness is passing the buck.

"That money has still been given to Charlie and it's gone. So now we're just spreading that burden to another company, unfortunately, and he's now affecting more people. And this that's not him paying his back. That's not restitution," Swenson said.

The attorney general's office says it's working on securing repayments for other families.

A March hearing in the criminal case was canceled because of the anticipated plea. A date has yet to be scheduled.

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