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Northeast Ohio playground builder faces federal criminal charges following News 5 investigation

Churches, daycares across country allege fraud
Posted at 5:24 PM, Apr 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-24 18:04:59-04

CLEVELAND — The owner of a Northeast Ohio company has been charged with defrauding churches, daycare centers and suppliers of hundreds of thousands dollars after failing to install playground systems for clients across the county.

Christopher M. Hardin operated American Safety Surface & Recreation, based in Broadview Heights, where federal prosecutors say Hardin "devised a scheme to defraud clients, playground material suppliers and subcontractors" through "false and fraudulent" promises and failing to either pay for materials or install the promised playground systems.

The charges are contained in a criminal information filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio that include 15 clients and two suppliers who were allegedly defrauded over $700,000 from September, 2011 through November, 2016.

Included among the projects listed by federal prosecutors is a playground for children at Cleveland’s Domestic Violence Child Advocacy Center that paid $15,900 to Hardin’s company.

An exclusive 5 On Your Side Investigation in June 2018 first uncovered and documented complaints from both clients and suppliers across the country who alleged they were ripped off by Hardin.

RELATED: FBI investigating Mentor playground company owner for allegedly cheating churches, daycares

Hardin is charged with one count of mail fraud and could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

Read the full criminal complaint below:

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