In a complex web of allegations, the owners of a Florida-based pool construction company, Legacy Pools, are accused of engaging in fraudulent activities and racketeering, with ties to Elevation Church raising serious allegations about the misuse of charitable donations and tax evasion.
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The complaint outlines a series of serious allegations against Chad and Kristin Black, the owners of Legacy Pools, and their associates, including Chad and Jen Cooper of Elevation Church. The Blacks are accused of soliciting pre-construction deposits and progress payments under duress, often threatening legal action against homeowners who resisted. Instead of using these funds to build pools, the Blacks allegedly diverted them to personal accounts and unrelated entities, including Elevation Church and directly to Chad and Jennifer Cooper’s personal accounts according to bank records.
Chad Black’s criminal activities reportedly span over a decade, with prior fraudulent behavior in Virginia and North Carolina before moving operations to Florida. The complaint details that Chad Black lied on his licensure application, stole personal identification for a loan, and extorted customers.
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Elevation Church’s Involvement:
The complaint further alleges that in 2019, Chad Black conspired with Chad and Jen Cooper, pastors of Elevation Church, to commit wire fraud. They used the church’s tax-exempt status to purchase construction materials, thereby evading taxes. The church, in turn, received substantial donations from the Blacks, totaling $156,500.00.
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The Timeline and Pattern of Racketeering:
The timeline of these activities is crucial to understanding the pattern of racketeering behavior. The complaint lists multiple acts in violation of federal statutes over several years, including bribery, conspiracy, and wire fraud. The Blacks are accused of bribing the Coopers with luxury items and trips in exchange for their participation in the fraudulent scheme.
The Role of Church Leaders:
Chad and Jen Cooper, despite their leadership roles at Elevation Church, are accused of aiding and abetting the fraud. The complaint suggests that they were fully aware that the donations to the church were proceeds from the fraudulent pool enterprise but turned a blind eye, as these donations made their branch appear successful. The Coopers initially stated they received no direct funds from Legacy Pools, however, bank records from the bankruptcy case proved that to not be true.
The Coopers came under severe public scrutiny when they published photos on social media of multiple luxury international travel with the owners of Legacy Pools, the Blacks. Records show that the Coopers paid only $66 for his roundtrip ticket to Greece, allegedly using credit card points he accumulated by purchasing pool supplies for Legacy Pools in an apparent scheme to avoid paying taxes.
The Impact on Victims:
The alleged scheme has reportedly misappropriated over 30 million dollars from over 600 unsuspecting homeowners. The Coopers are accused of furthering the scheme by erasing the money trail and bullying anyone who spoke out against the Blacks, including members of their congregation who came to the pastors for help.
Legal Actions and Demands:
Amidst these allegations, the bankruptcy case involving Legacy Pools, LLC has brought further issues to light. The Chapter 7 Trustee, Robert Altman, has filed a motion to compromise claims with Elevation Church, following the discovery of potentially avoidable fraudulent transfers to the church totaling $221,400.
The Trustee’s motion outlines a proposed compromise with Elevation Church, which includes:
A settlement payment of $150,000 from Elevation Church to the Trustee to resolve claims related to the avoidable transfers. A requirement for Elevation Church to pay the settlement within 14 days of the court’s approval, with provisions for enforcement should the church fail to comply. A judge has ruled that the donations to Elevation were made in ‘bad faith’ evidenced by the hundreds of outstanding pools left unfinished by Legacy while stating they did not have the money to purchase the supplies for the pools. The judge also mentioned that the Blacks took a deposit from another homeowner to build a pool just two weeks before filing for bankruptcy according to their bank records. An injunction preventing third parties from asserting claims for damages due to the avoidable transfers, ensuring the bankruptcy estate retains the sole right to recovery.
The law firm representing the Coopers has filed for a motion to withdraw counsel after a motion to disqualify them was filed by the plaintiff’s attorney. The very serious motion alleges that Coopers law firm Dean Mean previously represented the plaintiff and used confidential information from that attorney-client relationship to construct the Cooper’s defenses. A hearing has been set for this month to hear that motion.
The case against the owners of Legacy Pools and their alleged co-conspirators at Elevation Church paints a troubling picture of exploitation and deceit. The detailed allegations, if proven, could have significant legal and financial implications for all parties involved. The case continues to unfold as legal proceedings advance.