Contractor used customers’ money to pay bills

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AUSTIN (KXAN) – The contractor under fire for taking customers’ money without delivering the promised swimming pools, outdoor kitchens and landscaping used that money to pay bills for his business, a federal bankruptcy court was told Friday.

Contractor Louis “Tuffy” Davis, owner of TD Landscape Design LLC., said he knew as recently as April that his business was in financial trouble. But he continued to accept customers’ deposits for work to be done later in the spring even though the company was veering toward bankruptcy.

He told the bankruptcy trustee in court that he wrote company checks totaling $44,000 to himself over a three-month period as financial pressures mounted. Those checks were converted into cashier’s checks for sub-contractors and suppliers who would no longer take his personal checks, Davis said.

Davis also said that the bank accounts for his businesses were co-mingled and said he used customer’s money to pay company bills, his employees, to make insurance payments and  to put fuel in his company vehicles.

When asked why his suppliers weren’t paid, Davis said: “I didn’t have the funds. I was meeting with investors, loan people, to get the company back upright. So there’s your answer.”

As KXAN first reported, Davis owes millions of dollars to hundreds of customers and sub-contractors across the Austin area. Customers paid for pools and outdoor kitchens, but their projects were never finished. Some of the sub-contractors on those jobs were not paid.

TD Landscape Design and The Outdoor Marketplace, Davis’ other business, are both now closed down and in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings.

On August 7, Davis told his creditors he spent the last year trying to save his businesses and he did not intend to file for bankruptcy, which is why he continued taking payments on jobs that ultimately did not get completed.

Davis declined to comment on the case to KXAN.

The trustee told creditors Friday that the companies do not have a lot of liquid assets and the only recourse for many of them will be to sue Davis personally.

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