KPRC 2 Investigates: Contractor accused of taking more than $1M from families, leaving projects unfinished

The man is accused of taking $1.5M from several families

Montgomery County – A man contracted to build pools in Montgomery County is accused of stealing more than $1.5 million from more than a dozen families, leaving them with unfinished work in their backyards.

Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office charged Mark Mills, 56, with aggregate theft of more than $300,000.

KPRC 2 Investigates was there as law enforcement arrested Mills at his San Jacinto County home on Monday.

Mark Stephen Mills booking photo. Courtesy: Montgomery County Sheriff's Office (Courtesy: Montgomery County Sheriff's Office)

Several families said they hired Mills and his company, St. Croix Pools, to create their own summertime oasis to enjoy during a hot Texas day.

Instead, they say Mills took their money and left them with unfinished pools or shoddy construction that required even more money to repair.

Jacquelyn Hieber said she paid mills $70,000 for an incomplete mess of a pool. The work was based on the idea of a backyard paradise, but Hieber said all of that ended after she made her last payment.

“He met me at the bank and took a check for $30,000 out of my hand and never surfaced again. He stole money right out of my hand,” said Hieber.

Hieber and her family will have to pay more money to have the construction completed.

“I think about the money that could have been spent on my son’s college tuition,” said Hieber.

The DA’s office charged Mills with a first-degree felony of aggregate theft over $300k, which carries a sentence of five years to life in prison.

“Most of these folks are living a nightmare,” said Rob Freyer, chief prosecutor with MCDA. “These folks get to wake up and look out and see a big hole. They get reminded every day about what this man did to them.”

Court records show investigators spoke with 23 witnesses alleging Mills took their money and never completed the work. The alleged victims live in several counties, including Montgomery, Liberty, Polk and Walker, according to court records.

One person interviewed by investigators reported that after paying Mills more than $72,000, a subcontractor “threatened to file a lien” on the home.

Other families had similar experiences, like Rob and Beth Desilets of Montgomery. They said they paid St. Croix Pools more than $54,000 for a hot tub. The Desilets said four months after signing the contract with St. Croix Pools, they were left with a half-finished cement swamp.

“He lied. He made false promises and did shoddy work,” said Beth.

“It’s the fact that somebody came into your house and robbed you and there’s nothing you can do about it,” said Beth’s husband, Russell Desilets.

Montgomery County investigators believe there may be other victims and even some in different neighboring counties. If you were a victim of St. Croix Pools or Mills, contact the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office or call the office at 936-539-7800.

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About the Author:

Emmy-winning investigative reporter, insanely competitive tennis player, skier, weightlifter, crazy rock & roll drummer (John Bonham is my hero). Husband to Veronica and loving cat father to Bella and Meemo.