Lowcountry pool contractor returns to court, faces 18 charges

A pool contractor accused of scamming dozens in the Lowcountry faced a courtroom once again Tuesday morning.
Published: Jul. 18, 2023 at 10:50 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 18, 2023 at 11:25 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A pool contractor accused of scamming dozens in the Lowcountry faced a courtroom once again Tuesday morning.

The owner of Lowcountry Fiberglass Pools, Thomas Wayne Riley, is facing 18 financial charges between Charleston, Calhoun and Dorchester Counties. Each charge is one count of breach of trust with fraudulent intent greater than $10,000.

The hearing at Charleston County Bond Court Tuesday was for one charge of breach of trust with fraudulent intent greater than $10,000. The judge set Riley’s bond at $15,000, where he posted bond.

“It’s frustrating that every time a bond is set, he magically has the money to be able to bond out and that that money will not go towards the restitution for us victims,” former Lowcountry Fiberglass Pools customer, Ashley E. Blauser-Silva, says.

Live 5 News first investigated Lowcountry Fiberglass Pools back in March when several customers came forward, claiming they were out thousands of dollars after the company agreed to install pools they never began working on.

Now, among almost 20 customers, Riley is accused of taking almost $350,000 in total.

Tuesday’s bond hearing was for the charges brought by Elizabeth and Matt O’Connor against Riley, who signed a contract with Lowcountry Fiberglass Pools saying they lost $16,000 of their money in August of 2022.

“I think we’re still all in the process of trying to figure out where we go from here, because what we’d all like to have happen is we’d like to get our money back,” O’Connor says. “Each one of us have all worked really hard for what we have, and it’s just not fair that somebody else can just swoop in, take it, and get away with it.”

During Riley’s first bond hearing back in April, a state investigator revealed that Riley continued taking deposits for pools he never began building and used that money to pay his kids’ tuition, go on fishing trips and go to concerts.

“I would like him to say that he’s sorry that he was wrong, that he pays the money back, I believe he deserves to serve some time for it,” O’Connor adds. “Whether that will happen or not, I don’t know.”

“I want him to be able to look in the mirror at himself and say, ‘you know, I did the wrong thing and I need to make amends for it.’”

Blauser-Silva, says the entire process from putting down a deposit for the pool to the continuing legal action has created a lot of stress on the customers.

“From marriages to children that thought they were getting their wish of having a pool for many summers now, it’s very disheartening to know that someone could take advantage of this many people time and time again, and still continue to be out running around,” Blauser-Silva says.

Many of the customers seeking legal action against Riley would like to see all cases heard together by the state’s solicitor’s office.

“I absolutely hope that these charges all get put together so that the true nature of the operation can be seen,” she says. “I think when you start to connect the dots, there’s a very, very apparent history and structure that is even previous to Thomas Wayne Riley being in the pool business.”

For now, the customers are awaiting continuing court dates in their cases.

“We want to make sure that Thomas Wayne Riley is never able to do this again,” O’Connor says. “I don’t want him to be able to open another business under another name; I just don’t think that’s right, it’s not fair.”