VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A local swimming pool company that has operated for more than a decade in Hampton Roads is the focus of several current complaints and court actions.
Customers described John Jiannine, owner of Artistic Pools, as a talkative and likeable guy who won them over, but when 10 On Your Side came face-to-face with him he didn’t have much to say.
“It’s humiliating to admit [that this happened to me]. He showed us a great product,” said Liam Benincasa, who signed a contract with Jiannine in August for a $45,000 pool. It was going to be the centerpiece of his son’s high school graduation party this year, as well as a refuge for his family.
Work didn’t begin until January and ended shortly thereafter, according to Benincasa. The company had dug a hole and erected some sidewalls, but did little else.
“The largest disappointment is in my kids. You tell your kids you’re gonna have a nice pool for them and this is what they get to play in,” he said, pointing to piles of dirt in his backyard. “We actually had one of his workers call us and tell us that he didn’t have the money to finish our pool.”
But Jiannine did get Benincasa’s money — several payments totaling $35,000.
“He would tell us ‘they had to finish another pool … I’ve got to wait for another guy … the weather doesn’t look good,'” Benincasa said.
So now Benincasa has hired an attorney to look into possible criminal charges and will need to get another contractor to finish his pool. He estimates that he will end up paying a total of more than $80,000 when it’s all said and done.
“Basically it all has to be redone. There’s very little that can be used,” Benincasa said.
Justin Roth found out about Artistic Pools through a friend, who was satisfied with their pool despite several delays. Roth paid Jiannine nearly $38,000. Work was done, but Roth says it wasn’t done right.
“The coping brick wasn’t installed correctly, the wall wasn’t finished and there was still questionable stuff in regards to the frame of the wall, a lot of open seams. There were rust spots throughout, no concrete, no dirt leveled,” Roth said.
Roth’s kids were wondering if they’d ever get a pool.
“It’s been a nightmare. Something that you don’t want to ever have to experience.”
Roth had to pay a second contractor about $20,000. “I’ll give credit to the second company which kind of rebuilt my trust. But it’s hard.” His court case against Jiannine is scheduled for August.
10 On Your Side went to Jiannine’s home and asked him why he wasn’t able to finish the pool projects for Benincasa, Roth and several others who had paid him anywhere from a $5,000 deposit to nearly $40,000.
“My attorney says don’t talk to anybody,” Jiannine said standing in his driveway. He insisted only one customer was having problems and then waved us away and retreated into his garage.
Sam Weatherly of Chesapeake signed a contract with Jiannine in late summer 2020. Work began in October with a hole being dug, framework and a pool liner, but then the work stopped, Weatherly says. He has paid Jiannine a total of more than $35,000 and says Jiannine told him this week he doesn’t have the money to finish the job.
Matt Waldrop of Moyock, N.C., found out about Jiannine through a friend and paid him a down payment of $8,000 in early 2020. Work began in January 2021 and a hole was dug. By May, Waldrop had paid Jiannine a total of $40,000 and had a hole and some framing, but says the backfill, electrical connections and lights had still not been completed. He finished some of the work himself.
Others had contracts with Jiannine and Artistic Pools and made down payments of between $5,000 and $7,000 and received virtually no work or materials. Aaron Spisak just won a judgment against the company in May for $5,000. He says he’s also pursuing a criminal case.
Trisha Sheehan paid nearly $6,400 to Jiannine in October. She got a spray painted outline in her backyard, some sample books, and a hammer left behind by one of the workers. Six months later, with no progress, she let him know how aggravated she was.
“Not only did you mess with our children because they had this hope that they were getting a pool, but you messed with our lives,” Sheehan told Jiannine in a phone call recorded in mid-March.
“Give me a couple days here and I’ll get you your money. Don’t worry about it. You’ll get your money back,” Jiannine said on the call. Three months later Sheehan has seen none of her money.
Her case against Jiannine and Artistic Pools is set for trial in September, following a hearing this week in Chesapeake General District Court. According to Sheehan, Jiannine told her attorney Tuesday that he “wants to pay back everyone I owe money to. I want to go out of this business with my head held high”.
Jiannine has been in the pool business for years, and 10 On Your Side found several complaints online dating back to 2008. Donna Adams paid Jiannine $40,000 in 2011 when his company was called Designer Pools. Adams says it was set too low and the area would flood. She paid a second contractor $25,000 more to make it right.
10 On Your Side spoke with Jiannine again briefly on the phone two weeks ago to get his input.
Jiannine said “my input doesn’t make a difference when it comes to 10 On Your Side.” He has taken our contact information twice and said his attorney would call, but there has been no further contact.
If you have information about Artistic Pools and John Jiannine, contact us at email@example.com