Sept. 6 2018 10:04 AM

A couple ordered a swimming pool, but instead got stuck with a $90,000 dirt pit. It’s just one of many stories about an alleged crooked contractor.

A couple in Surprise, Arizona who were building a custom home expected that by now, they’d be enjoying their new backyard, its swimming pool with detached spa, barbecue, pergola and travertine walkways. But what Linda and Matt Jensen got instead was, well…a surprise: a $90,000 pool-sized dirt hole, according to a story published by the Arizona Republic and posted on azcentral.com.

Bill Schlosser, the man they paid for the job, owned a landscape business in Surprise called Modern Outdoor. But neither he nor his business had a license to operate in the state. Now he’s on the radar of law enforcement officials who are looking into his work.

The Jensens say there are many more victims. “He knows how to talk and make it sound good,” Matt Jensen says. “Part of the blame is on me for shelling out all of this money.”

The Arizona Republic spoke with five West Valley families who also hired Schlosser for hardscaping and landscaping projects that were left unfinished. They say he owes them thousands of dollars.

All of them gave similar accounts. The pattern is this: Schlosser asks for half of the money upfront and work begins, along with many delays. Shortly thereafter, the work stops entirely and Schlosser stops returning calls.

One case, filed by the Surprise Police Department and forwarded to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, recommends criminal charges of forgery, fraud and theft. Two other cases are still under investigation.

The Arizona Registrar of Contractors has also forwarded two cases to the county attorney, recommending misdemeanor charges for performing work without a license. It is still investigating one other case.

The County Attorney’s Office is reviewing the cases to decide whether to press charges. It is also waiting for more information from Surprise police.

There are many other allegations, too, including ordering materials under the names of companies he didn’t own, and using a client’s credit card to purchase supplies for another client’s job.

Schlosser told The Arizona Republic in an email that he shut down Modern Outdoor in early July.

“I have not been made aware of the allegations/charges you’re speaking of,” he wrote. “Therefore, I do not wish to comment at this time.”