published Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Bradley County contractor indicted in swimming pool fraud

Want a new pool? Or a pool liner? Or a fountain? Be careful where you go to get it.

A Bradley County, Tenn., grand jury on Friday indicted Bruce Whitten Sr. on five counts of misapplication of payment, two counts of offense by a home improvement service, two counts of theft over $10,000, three counts of theft over $1,000 and one count of theft over $500.

Whitten, 59, of Davis Drive in Cleveland, Tenn., remained at the Bradley County Jail this week in lieu of a $100,000 bond.

The Bradley County Sheriff's Office began receiving complaints about Whitten in 2009, and through April of this year six more people filed complaints. They all said that they gave Whitten money to work on their pools, and that at some point he stopped showing up.

"Basically, he would not do the work," said Bob Gault, spokesman for the sheriff's office.

In 2009, according to police records, Whitten received money to install a light tower next to a pool and then bailed. So instead, the resident spent $767 on his own light tower and paid another contractor $286 to install it.

In April 2011, Whitten allegedly took money to build an in-ground pool. Again, he apparently stopped working before finishing the project. He would do the same thing again in February of this year, Gault said.

Three other times, according to police, Whitten never replaced pool liners after receiving the money to do so. And once, in September 2012, he allegedly failed to install an outdoor fountain after a resident paid him.

Though the sheriff's office received its first complaint about Whitten in 2009, Gault was unsure how long investigators had been looking into Whitten before the indictment. It had been several months, Gault said.

Anyone else who says they paid Whitten for unfinished work can file a complaint with the sheriff's office by calling 423-728-7337.

Contact Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or tjett@timesfreepress.com.

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