SAGAMORE HILLS — A township church’s daycare center is among a list of churches, schools and companies allegedly defrauded out more than $700,000 in connection with the installation and restoration of playgrounds, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.
Northfield Presbyterian Church Daycare Center, 7755 South Boyden Road, was allegedly defrauded out of $7,125, according to U.S. Sixth District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.
Strongsville resident Christopher M. Hardin, 37, is charged with one count of felony mail fraud in the case filed April 23 following an FBI investigation, court records say.
Phone calls made to Northfield Presbyterian Church Daycare Center and to Hardin’s attorney were not immediately returned.
According to court records, American Safety Surface and Recreation, LLC, a playground resurfacing company Hardin started in Broadview Heights in 2011, collected nearly $173,000 in deposits from 15 churches and schools in Ohio, New York, Nebraska, Utah, Maryland, New Jersey, California and Iowa between 2011 and 2016 for playground work that was never performed.
In addition, Hardin’s company also allegedly did not pay about $270,000 to a Wisconsin landscaping firm for subcontracted work on at least 20 projects and about $261,000 to a South Carolina company for the purchase of equipment and supplies.
According to court records, Hardin allegedly made false statements to clients and the companies concerning payments, delays in completing projects and his company’s finances in order to get them to give the company more time to complete projects or to extend credit.
In the meantime, Hardin allegedly used money he collected for personal expenses unrelated to his business, including buying a vehicle and clothing and for restaurant and bar purchases, according to court records.
Hardin waived his right to an indictment by a grand jury, according to court records, and is scheduled for arraignment on May 16.
Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at 330-541-9431, email@example.com or @JeffSaunders_RP.