Contractor accused of fraud completes jail time, but some consumers left out of deal

ByMichael Finney and Randall Yip KGO logo
Tuesday, November 19, 2019
Jail time doesn't satisfy contractor fraud victims
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In a rare turn, a contractor fraud case results in jail time and restitution for the victims.

GILROY, Calif. (KGO) -- A contractor completed his jail sentence this month on charges of taking money for a pool and spa he failed to complete.

It's rare in these types of cases to actually get restitution, let alone jail time. This story represents both the triumphs and frustration of consumers who feel they've been criminally wronged.

State regulators accused Donald Boucher of abandoning a pool and spa project in Gilroy. Before long, rain water filled the pool of the Santos family. At the time, Boucher was a franchisee for Premier Pools and Spas.

Boucher lost his franchise in 2016 when the company took it from him and the Contractors State License Board revoked his state license.

Someone with long ties to the company and who wants to remain anonymous stepped in to finish the work at cost in 2017.

RELATED: Local contractors accused of stealing $800,000 from customers

The Santos family's oldest daughter could hardly believe it.

"It made me happy because it's done in time for summer and I can have friends over," said Malaya Santos in 2017.

"I'm really excited," laughed her mother Eileen.

Several water falls now empty into the Santos' new pool, which includes a spa.

Fast forward to this past summer and the family received word a complaint they filed with the Gilroy Police Department would be pursued criminally.

The DA charged Boucher with felony grand theft, a diversion of construction funds and requesting an excessive deposit.

Under a plea bargain, Boucher received a 40-day jail sentence, which he completed this week. He was ordered to pay $35,000 in restitution. In exchange, the charges were reduced to a misdemeanor.

Prosecutor Kalila Spain says this case is about more than just a pool. It's about hopes and dreams.

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"When that dream is frustrated, because someone takes your money and doesn't deliver, that person is left with a hole. In this case, literally a hole in their backyard," said Deputy District Attorney Kalia Spain.

She says Boucher has surprisingly already paid his restitution in full.

Less fortunate was another San Jose man, Colin Crisanti. The hole he says Boucher dug turned into a swamp.

The same person who helped the Santos finished their project at cost declined to help him because he was out of the company's service area.

"Finish my pool. I just want my pool finished," said Crisanti.

Frustrated, Crisanti has since bulldozed his entire project and moved on. He declined to tell us if he filed a formal complaint with authorities.

"Because they were taken advantage of, they may be reluctant to come forward to report on the crime. One thing I would like to say is we're here to help. Law enforcement is here to help," said Spain.

Like the Santos family, Brian Bruce did go to the Gilroy Police Department for help. He says the spa Boucher built for him had leaks.

He said the police referred him to the building department, which took no action because it is more focused on health and safety.

Spain advises consumers not to give up.

"A lot of times I hear that from victims they are frustrated because their voices aren't being heard. Frustrated that they haven't received their day in court, but what's important to remember is that if they do persist, we are able to hopefully hold that person accountable," she said.

The same contractor who helped the Santos also repaired Bruce's spa, but Bruce says problems persist.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.