CLEVELAND — A man at the center of an exclusive News 5 Investigation faces more charges after taking tens of thousands of dollars from unsuspecting customers.
“This is where we were going to have it...right here,” said Rebecca Burke from Chardon, who was showing us where her new pool was supposed to be installed in her backyard. “And then our dreams got destroyed,” she added.
That’s because Allan Gulliford stole Burke’s $6,000 deposit and didn’t do any of the work. She did work preparing for the pool, which added to the expenses for her project. “We took trees along here down to provide some sun…and that’s not cheap,” she told us.
You might recognize Gulliford after News 5 Investigators exposed his criminal acts in several counties where Gulliford promised pools but never delivered. In fact, we showed how various prosecutors and judges let Gulliford out on bond or probation despite similar contractor convictions.
“Mr. Gulliford was a very good liar,” said Burke.
RELATED: Court system 'fails' homeowners after police say pool contractor takes money despite convictions, probations, and AG's ban
GULLIFORD'S PAST CATCHES UP TO HIM
Well, after our initial story on Gulliford, his problems caught up with him in Geauga County court. Gulliford pleaded guilty to not only Burke’s case, but in the case of Deb Krebs from Parkman. Both women were in court to hear what they have been waiting to hear for a long time.
“Do you admit you committed the acts to the crimes charged in the plea agreement?” the judge asked Gulliford.
“I do,” said Gulliford, who was at the Geauga County Jail but on video conference during the hearing.
He’s guilty of theft and grand theft. And if you thought Burke’s $6,000 was bad, he took more than $33,000 from Krebs for a pool that never came.
“He even talked us into getting a slide for my grandkids because, ‘Oh, they were just going to enjoy that so much,’” said Krebs.
VICTIMS QUESTION PLEA AGREEMENT
Gulliford faces 2.5 years in prison, but there’s a plea agreement on the table of just nine months.
“It took me over 5 years to save that money up. I think he should at least do that amount of time,” said Krebs.
“If that bothers you, and it bothers me,” said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. Gulliford even defied the AG’s statewide ban on Gulliford doing business by continuing to take people’s pool money. Yost said probation isn’t always enough for people like Gulliford.
“If we’re going to let them do it over and over and over again, what we’re telling them is that there’s no penalty for being a predator. How’s that justice?” asked Yost.
Burke, who’s an injured veteran from the Navy, just wanted a pool to help.
“It would be a great way to do some aqua therapy, spend some time in the pool that’s not physical therapy or at the chiropractor,” she told us.
She and Krebs are upset that the courts didn’t know about Gulliford’s past criminal acts.
“The state has just been made aware that he has multiple active warrants in surrounding counties,” said the prosecutor during the guilty plea hearing.
“That’s one thing I would like to see come out of this, somebody look at our court system and how they talk,” said Burke. “Or don’t talk.”
SUPREME COURT 'PILOT PROGRAM' ON SENTENCING
Yost told us the Ohio Supreme Court is running a pilot program on sentencing data that will help judges all over the state have better info before sentencing.
“On the lenient end, maybe those sentences will get a little bit stiffer,” said Yost. “And maybe some of the outliers, the hanging judges, will dial it back a bit.”
In the meantime, Gulliford claims he doesn’t have any cash and was appointed a public defender.
“Because he has no money? What did he do with all this money?” asked Krebs.
Gulliford’s victims continue to be well beyond frustrated.
“I feel victimized again because he’s getting all these rights and I feel like I don’t have any,” said Krebs.
“Yeah, I agree with that,” said Burke.
Gulliford is scheduled to be sentenced on July 22 at 2:30pm.
“It’s time to lower the hammer and give him a taste of a lack of freedom,” said Yost.