Military couple says pool man took $40,000, never finished pool - Montgomery Alabama news.

Military couple says pool man took $40,000 and never finished pool


What was supposed to be a huge surprise and Christmas gift for their children became a huge headache and money pit for a Glennville military couple.

Now, they say a Richmond Hill pool contractor took the money they saved while serving our country overseas, and never finished the job he started.

The contractor in question was arrested Friday afternoon, two days after telling WTOC he was going to work things out with the couple and make everything right "and then some," in his own words.

The family didn't believe him before. They really don't believe him now.

"Nov. 13, he came and dug a hole and we didn't hear anything from Mr. Gates," said Dana Fischl De La Rosa.

The De La Rosa family's dream pool was supposed to be started in July. All it is right now is a giant eroding hole in their back yard.

"This was every penny we saved while in combat and it was a gift back to our kids from both parents having been deployed. This is what we have to show for it, and a cleared bank account," Dana told WTOC.

"Not only did the individual lie to me, but he took our money," said Julio De La Rosa.

For six months, Dana and Julio, both Sgt. 1st Class with the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, had been dealing with Coastal Empire Roofing and Construction,  who also operate as Coastal Empire Pool and Spa.

The De La Rosa's paid two down payments of $20,000, and as of Jan. 21,  seven months later, the hole in the backyard is what they have. Mr. Gates had been out of contact since before Christmas.

"It's a different excuse, why this, why that," Julio said.

"So we are out $40,000. $40,000," Dana said.

The De La Rosa's started doing some investigating.

"According to their fiberglass distributor, they haven't installed one pool. They haven't even picked up one fiberglass shell to install a pool," Dana said.

So they called the Richmond Hill Police.

"My kids ask me every day, ‘Papi when is the pool coming?', and I don't have an answer. So for you to come into my home and disrespect me, that is where I draw the line, and I won't stop," Julio said.

"We know from the police department there are other people looking for him as well," Dana said.

Coastal Empire's Better Business Bureau grade plummeted from a B+ in July to an F by Christmas, with multiple unanswered complaints. The De La Rosa's finally made contact with Mr. Gates last week, with our help, but he failed to return their money and was arrested by Richmond Hill Police.

"I just want my money back and somebody else will do it because I am going to get a pool and my kids will get a pool," Julio said.

"No one, well, we don't have a penny, but no one will see a penny until the work is complete to our standards," Dana said.

Again, WTOC spoke with Mr. Gates who told us he had been dealing with a death in the family since December, which is why he had been out of touch with customers.

He promised to make things right with customers by last Friday. We are waiting for more information from the Richmond Hill Police Chief about the specifics of Gates' arrest.

To view the BBB Business Review for Coastal Empire Roofing and Construction, visit

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