ASCENSION PARISH — A New Orleans-based pool contractor has left a handful of clients dry after seemingly disappearing without a trace.
As of Jan. 4, detectives from the Ascension Township Sheriff’s Office have been searching for Kitchel, who is wanted on charges of building contractor fraud of over $25,000 and illegal contracting.
Customers say they last heard from Kenneth Kitchel, owner of Mardi Gras Pools LLC, in mid-November before his and his phone lines were severed Facebook business page stopped interacting with posts.
Donald Johnson says he paid a $30,000 deposit in August for a pool installation in his October duplex set. Months passed without the work being completed, and after November 19 Kitchel did not respond to Johnson at all.
“I have $30,000 owed and I have a loan to pay off on a pool that I don’t have,” Johnson said.
He added that the NOPD will not take an official report, it is a civil matter and no lawyer is ready to take the case.
Billie Schwehm is in a similar situation. She paid Kitchel a $20,000 deposit on a pool that she later found out was never ordered.
“Always some excuse. When I finally started to approach him he was about three weeks old. Then two weeks. Then I will check and see. That’s after I didn’t respond for four or five days,” Schwehm said. “Then I saw where my texts weren’t getting through, so we called the pool manufacturer, and they told us they didn’t even place an order.”
Schwehm says she contacted one of Kitchel’s employees, who says he hasn’t heard from his boss since Thanksgiving.
Records show that Kitchel was arrested in New Orleans in November. On December 9, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office issued a warrant for his arrest for making an illegitimate check for more than $16,000 to a pool supply store.
The Livingston Township Sheriff’s Office is also investigating Kitchel on allegations of fraud.
If you have any information regarding Kitchel’s whereabouts please contact Crime Stoppers by calling 344-STOP (344-7867).