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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Ohio

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 25, 2019

Strongsville man charged for allegedly defrauding companies, churches, schools and others out of hundreds of thousands of dollars for work on playground renovations and installations he never completed

A Strongsville man was charged in federal court after he allegedly defrauded companies, churches, schools and others out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Christopher M. Hardin, 37, was charged via criminal information with one count of mail fraud.

According to the information:

Hardin established American Safety Surface & Recreation LLC (ASSR) in 2011 with its principal place of business being Broadview Heights. ASSR was a playground surfacing company that operated in several states, including Ohio, New Jersey, Iowa, California, New York, Texas and elsewhere.

Hardin, between September 2011 and November 2016, defrauded clients out of approximately $172,964 by obtaining deposits for promised work on playground renovations and installations that he never completed.

Hardin ordered and obtained approximately $261,083 in playground equipment and materials from OTS Company, based in South Carolina, for which payment was not made.

Hardin subcontracted approximately $270,127 of playground renovations and installation projects to MJD’s Property Solutions, LLC, for which payment was not made.

According to the information, Hardin fraudulently misrepresented to clients the use of project deposits, the timing of project completion and issues causing delays in projects, when Hardin knew he was using client funds for purposes other than what he had promised, including purchasing a vehicle, restaurant and bar purchases, and clothing unrelated to ASSR projects

As a result of Hardin’s scheme, the following customers sustained losses in the approximate amounts listed below for deposits they provided to Hardin for work that was never performed: Plainview Co-Op Nursery School ($28,755); Hudson Valley SportsDome, Inc. ($28,380); Saint Bellarmine Church ($21,375); St. Stephan of Hungary School, New York, New York ($18,450); St. Paul Lutheran Church & School, Ogden, Utah ($6,550); the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center, Cleveland, Ohio ($15,900); Norbeck Montessori, Rockville, Maryland ($6,000); Village of Dolgeville, New York ($4,000); Northfield Presbyerian Daycare Center, Northfield, Ohio ($7,125); All Kids First I & II, Vineland, New Jersey ($9,500); NORWESCAP,Inc.,Phillipsburg, New Jersey ($2,475);  John Link, Thompson, Ohio ($300); Little Wonders Daycare, San Mateo, California ($6,629); Lorene Cosimo, Cummings, Iowa ($1,825) Jan & Niles Davies Learning Center, and West Haverstraw, New York: $15,700, according to the information.

If convicted, the defendant's sentence will be determined by the Court after reviewing factors unique to this case, including the defendant's prior criminal record, if any, the defendant's role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation.  In all cases the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew B. Kall.

An information is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Mike Tobin 216.622.3651 michael.tobin@usdoj.gov
Updated April 25, 2019