PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The City of Port St. Lucie’s Contractors' Examining Board Thursday voted to revoke Amore Pools Inc.’s license and fine the company $1000 in administration fees.
The owner of the Vero Beach based business, Chrystal Washburn, and her husband Brian Washburn were arrested on charges of stealing at least $2 million from nearly 150 customers by taking large upfront deposits and payments without intending to finish their pools.
The majority of the permits approved for Amore Pools Inc. were in Port St. Lucie.
However, Port St. Lucie was the last municipality to hold a disciplinary hearing against Amore Pools. Beginning in June to October, Indian River County, St. Lucie County, Martin County, the City of Stuart, and Okeechobee County all voted to suspend or revoke Amore’ Pools permitting privileges.
Port St. Lucie in nearly two years approved at least 80 pool permits for Amore Pools. Records show few were finished. Some permits continued to be issued into August.
“This is the first hearing in Port St. Lucie. It is a disgrace,” said homeowner Diana Fell.
Fell spoke during public comment, slamming the city’s building department. “He issued six new permits to a company that had complaints on file. Every other county… revoked their licenses,” Fell said.
“It is beyond obvious that somebody here with the city dropped the ball. I think they need to be held accountable,” said homeowner Trista Raspa.
Homeowners criticized the city for approving Chrystal Washburn’s application to register as a pool builder in the first place in 2017. According to FDLE, she forged documents and lied about her experience and credentials.
“The building department also failed to verify handwritten references pretty much in crayon and marker. That’s no joke,” said homeowner Eric Senecal.
Multiple homeowners also said officials in the building department for the city wouldn’t take all of their complaints, or gave them advice that hurt the homeowner, not Washburn.
“He said that I should not fire them, but allow them to do subpar work in my house and I should have it repaired and that would be less expensive,” said Fell.
“After all of my multiple complaints, they turned around and gave them 90 more days on my permit which also makes me question exactly what’s going on,” homeowner April Patterson said.
Because Port St. Lucie approved Washburn’s license to build pools, giving them a certificate of competency, that approval allowed Amore’ to do work in other communities through reciprocity.
That’s why homeowners in other communities, like Martin County, also put blame on Port St. Lucie.
“Everybody else trusted you to do your due diligence and they gave them reciprocity. It started here,” said Hobe Sound homeowner, Deb Neger.
“This has generated enough uproar that something will have to be done to figure out where the flaw is and where the ball was dropped,” said Contractors’ Examining Board Chair, Theodore Illg.
The City of Port St. Lucie said it cannot comment on specific complaints because of an ongoing police investigation, but released the following statement to WPTV:
"The City is aware of the many residents who have complaints against Amore Pools. We are deeply troubled with their business practices and by the way they have treated our residents. The City has been informed that the Washburns have been arrested and charged with a variety of crimes. The City of Port St. Lucie, including its Police Department and its Building Department, is assisting FDLE in its investigation and the State Attorney in its prosecution. Along with our residents, we will be anxiously awaiting the outcome of these criminal cases.
The City is working on compiling the documents from each respective department as they relate to any applications that Chrystal Washburn or Brian Washburn have submitted to the City for licensing or certificates of competency. Generally, applications for licensing are reviewed by staff for completeness. The application is then provided to the Contractors Examining Board, which makes the determination on licensing, for review and approval at a public meeting."