NASHVILLE, Tenn. - State regulators have voted to formally suspend the license of Premier Pools after NewsChannel 5 Investigates exposed how the company left dozens of area homeowners with unfinished or poorly finished pools.
Despite efforts at damage control by Premier Pools' attorney, the state Contractors' Board seems ready to throw the book at the company.
Homeowners first showed NewsChannel 5 Investigates several weeks ago how Premier Pools left them high and dry. Some of these unhappy customers also turned to the state with their complaints.
The Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors held a hearing by telephone Thursday so its members across the state could take part.
The Board first suspended the company's license last week, but held the emergency hearing to give Premier a chance to argue its side of the story.
The state said Shanks lied when questioned by investigators after the state started getting complaints about her company.
"The complaints generally allege substandard work, abandoned projects, unreasonable delays, missed deadlines, exceeding their license limitations, property damage and failure to pay subcontractors," said state staff attorney Bruce Pogue.
Premier Pools' owner Anna Shanks did not show up, but took part in the hearing with her attorney, by telephone.
The Board said it wants to revoke the company's license and impose fines.
But Premier Pools' attorney argued that since the company filed for bankruptcy protection last month, the state won't be able to collect anything. He also tried to get the Board to agree to let the company simply surrender its license.
"It sounds to me like counsel is trying to get the Board to agree to language that will not find any wrong doing by his client," Board member Bill Mason responded.
Board members refused to go along with the idea, citing concerns that Premier Pools' owners will simply move to another state and open another company.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates first exposed how they moved to Tennessee after taking money from homeowners in Mississippi to build pools and never finished the work. And our investigation found both the owner and her husband pleaded guilty to charges in Mississippi after state authorities got involved.
Sam Johnson and Jenny Carson are both customers of Premier Pools who have had ongoing problems with the company and been unable to get Premier to finish their pools.
Both came to the hearing, and told NewsChannel 5 Investigates they are glad the Board didn't let the company off the hook.
"The Board of Contractors was incredibly brilliant today and I applaud them," Johnson said.
"We want to make sure that Tennessee sets the precedent that this is it. You cannot continue ripping people off in any state you go to," Carson explained.
The state will hold its formal hearing next month to revoke the company's license and discuss fines. Homeowners said they will be there as well.
When Premier Pools filed for bankruptcy last month, it stated that it owed more than half a million dollars to subcontractors and pool supply companies in the area. It also listed nearly three dozen homeowners who had not had their pools finished.
Wednesday, June 19 2013 2:24 PM EDT2013-06-19 18:24:42 GMT
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