Another sting by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office on unlicensed contractors resulted in the arrest six people on multiple charges. It was part of a statewide effort that went down last week called Operation Hammer Down.
Detectives worked with the Sarasota County Building Department, the Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Insurance Fraud and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) to contact individuals advertising home repair services that require a license to complete, according to a Sheriff’s Office press release.
As subjects arrived at the target residence in southern Sarasota County last week, the DBPR database was checked to determine if they were licensed, registered as a contractor, and had the required workers compensation coverage or exemption to perform the work they proposed to do.
In all, the operation resulted in four felony charges and six misdemeanor charges. The following individuals were arrested during the two-day operation:
Douglas Pierce, 47, and Paige Pierce, 46, 3200 block of Meadow Run Court, Venice
Miles Mitchell, 56, 4100 block of Englewood Road, Venice
Tomas Brejza, 42, 4000 block of Palau Drive, Sarasota
Kris Johnson, 67, 1000 block of Iowa Avenue, Englewood
Jeffrey Lexvold, 49, 4300 block of Fourwind Street, Port Charlotte
Since 2012, the sheriff’s office has assigned detectives to investigate claims against people who engage in contracting work without proper licenses, permits or certification. A first offense usually results in a civil citation by code enforcement but subsequent violations lead to misdemeanor or felony criminal charges. The defendants also receive a cease and desist order from the State of Florida.
“This is a good reminder why consumers should always seek licensed contractors to perform work on their home or business,” said Sheriff Tom Knight. “Residents and business owners are exposing themselves to financial and physical risk by allowing these people to enter their home unlicensed. Not only does this illegal activity pose a threat to consumers, but it also directly effects legitimate business owners operating within the parameters of the law.”
“When Floridians need to make improvements or repairs to their home, they deserve to have the confidence that the work will be done honestly, completely, and according to professional standards that are designed to protect them and their families,” said DBPR Secretary Halsey Beshears.
To check a Sarasota County license, call the Customer Service and Permit Center at 941-861-6678 or 941-861-3029. To report someone you suspect is acting as an unlicensed contractor or performing work without a permit, call 941-861-5000. For more information visit SCgov.net/government/planning-and-development-services/building.