I-TEAM UPDATE: After being busted again, a local pool contractor pleads guilty and walks out of court after paying fines

Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

COLUMBIA COUNTY, GA (WRDW/WAGT) – We have an I-Team update on the man who started our entire investigation into bad pool contractors more than a year and a half ago.

Once we started digging, the mug shots started piling up and so did the court dates.

Contractor Earl Chastagner was in Columbia County court Wednesday, and so were we.

We tried to talk to Chastagner following the hearing. We exchanged a few words on the courthouse staircase, but even though he apparently doesn’t have the money to pay his victims, he had it to pay the county.

“I tried to talk to you before,” Chastagner said. “You lost my trust, alright?”

“You lied to me,” our Meredith Anderson replied. “You lied to me. You sent me pictures of happy customers and none of these customers say they were happy.”

Those customers in Aiken County were left with unfinished pools.

Did Chastagner want to say anything to those victims?

"No, but you're kind of like a bad ex-girlfriend,” Chastagner said to Anderson. “You just can't get enough attention. Aren't you?"

That was the last time we spoke to Chastagner. Today in Columbia County, we picked up right where we left off.

“You know I want to talk to you,” Anderson said to Chastagner.

“I know you said,” Chastagner replied.

“You gonna say anything?” Anderson said.

“I guess you can’t get me off your mind,” Chastagner said.

“I can’t get you off my mind? No, it’s just you keep coming to court,” Anderson said.

“We’re done,” Chastagner said. “You’re going to get a reaction. Don’t worry.”

And we do get a few more words in a few minutes. But first, let's talk about Thursday in court. It had to do with two citations, both citing qualifications to be a specialty contractor. According to these, he wasn't qualified -- no workman's comp and no bond.

It's not the first time Chastagner hasn't been up to code. When our I-Team started investigating his work -- or lack thereof -- we came to Carlo Bono's backyard. That's when we uncovered 12 violations related to three different pool projects in Columbia County.

“Personally,” Bono said, “I’d like to see him in jail.”

Instead, Chastagner was fined. He paid the county and was allowed to work again. That's exactly what happened again today, and he shared that with us as he left the courthouse.

However, Chastagner did plead guilty.

“It’s easier for the county to assess fines, get the money, then sentence him to jail, which costs the county,” Bono said.

Retired Secret Service agent Bill Cravens sure would like to see his money.

“I’ve got a judgement for him in this very courtroom for $9,000,” Cravens said.

So, has Cravens received any of that money?

“Ah, let’s see. Nothing,” Cravens said.

But Cravens said he also found nothing when researching Chastagner almost 10 years ago – nothing; no red flags, so he hired him.

Now he says at least our I-Team investigation serves as a warning.

“Anybody Googles his name, it’s going to come up,” Cravens said. “And you really need to beware. Be careful.”

It was another day in court where Chastagner walked away.

Chastagner could have gone to jail for 60 days, but the judge allowed him to pay a total of $700 in fines, and since he paid it today, he won’t even have to be on probation.

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