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Customers claim Westminster landscaping company won't return deposits after unfinished jobs

Westminster landscaping company struggles to return customer deposits, claims money is gone
Posted at 6:16 PM, Sep 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-08 20:16:30-04

DENVER — Several customers who contracted with a Westminster landscaping company claim they dished out thousands of dollars and received no work or refunds in return.

Colorado Springs resident Katie Peterson said she paid a deposit of more than $3,500 to Thin Blue Line Custom Landscaping and Design.

"He understood what I wanted, and he had a great price," she said.

At first, Peterson thought she hired the perfect landscaper to xeriscape her front and backyard. The work was supposed to begin in May.

"It is now September 8 and no work had been done," Peterson said.

Peterson showed Contact Denver7 more than 35 pages of messages between her and the Thin Blue Line's owner, Juan Rafael Torres Pablo, begging him to give her money back or start the job.

"He always has a reason or an excuse," Peterson said. "So first it was that his wife had a baby. Second excuse then was that he needed a new truck. Then the truck broke down. Then his crew left him. Then he had to fire a crew. Then it was he has to find new workers again. "I'll hire day laborers, or I'll come do it myself.""

Contact Denver7 learned Peterson isn't the only customer in this situation with Torres Pablo. Two reviews on Yelp warn the company "will take your deposit and not show up." One review stated "excuse after excuse and no work."

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So a Contact Denver7 crew went to Torres Pablo's home seeking answers. We asked why he hasn't returned Peterson's money.

"What I'm telling you is I'm trying to see where the money goes," Torres Pablo said, citing personal issues.

He said he deposited the money in a bank account and is unsure where the money has gone.

"Who took the money?" Contact Denver7's Bayan Wang asked.

"That's what I don't know. I want to see where the money is spent," Torres Pablo said.

"Who else is dealing with your money," Wang asked.

"I give it to my customer supervisors sometimes," Torres Pablo replied. He declined to provide the supervisors' names.

"How many customers are in Katie [Peterson's] position?" Wang asked.

"There's probably two more than I'm dealing with right now," Torres Pablo replied.

"You sure it's not five?" Wang asked.

"The other ones I'm dealing with, that's ones I'm just returning and waiting for the material to return," Torres Pablo replied. "When I buy some more materials to return the money back to me so I can give them back."

While Torres Pablo claimed he wanted to return customer funds, he also indicated they may not get a full refund.

"They have a contract signed with them where it say how much percentage of that contract is not going back to them because they fired me," he said.

In the meantime, Peterson says she plans to take Torres Pablo to small claims court, hoping to get some of her deposit back.

Editor's note: Denver7 seeks out audience tips and feedback to help people in need, resolve problems and hold the powerful accountable. If you know of a community need our call center could address, or have a story idea for our investigative team to pursue, please email us at contact7@thedenverchannel.com or call (720) 462-7777. Find more Contact Denver7 stories here.