WNDB 93.5 FM/1150 AM

Joint FCSO/VCSO Unlicensed Contractor Investigation Yields Several Arrests

By on June 20, 2017 in WNDB News

Flagler/Volusia County, FL – Recently, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) and the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office (VCSO) conducted a joint undercover sting to crack down on uninsured and unlicensed contractors in the area.

After Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly’s wife received a call about a roof repair following Hurricane Matthew and was hung up on after she asked if they were licensed and insured, targeting unlicensed and uninsured contractors in the area became a priority.

“There is a reason that contractor licenses are required when performing these types of services,” says Flagler Sheriff Rick Staly. “Not only does it ensure that the work is meeting safety standards required by building codes, but it protects the homeowner from shady service or the possibility of getting ripped off. Homeowners need to be aware of the risk they take when they hire someone who is not licensed.”

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood became passionate about catching unlicensed contractors, electricians, plumbers and air-conditioning repairmen after licensed contractors contacted him frustrated about the state of the practice.

“They’re parasites – I can’t think of a better way to describe them,” says Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood. “The message should get out there that if you’re doing this activity, there’s a chance that you’re going to be in handcuffs, there’s a chance you’re going to have to hire an attorney, and there’s a chance you’re going to wind up on the news tonight.”

In collaboration with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), Florida Department of Financial Services’ Divison of Insurance Fraud and the State’s Attorney’s Office, the FCSO and the VCSO undercover detectives pretended to be homeowners looking to do work around the house that would require a license and insurance.

“We were proud to play an active role in this week’s sting in Volusia and Flagler counties, and we will continue our efforts to protect Florida’s consumers and licensed professionals,” says Matilde Miller, Interim DBPR Secretary. “Unlicensed contractors lack the training, qualifications, and insurance to complete a job properly, and they often leave consumers paying more to repair substandard work. At DBPR, we’re committed to bringing these unlicensed individuals into compliance with the law to help protect this state and its consumers.”

In “Operation, Wong Number,” a home in Palm Coast was used by the FCSO to conduct the sting and in “Operation Con-tractor,” a home in Deltona was used similarly by the VCSO.

5 individuals gave the undercover FCSO investigators an estimate for electrical work, plumbing, remodeling and fixing a dock ranging from $2,900 to $16,620. Upon their return to the property to collect a deposit and the key, they were all arrested and questioned.

Those arrested were:

Jay Philip Estes, 55, of Palm Coast

  • Construction without a License

Cynthia Ann Haggerty, 45, of Daytona Beach

  • Construction without a License
  • Electrical without a License

Jonas Russell Rich, 35, of Palatka

  • Construction without a License

Thomas J. Smith, 43, of Port Orange

  • Construction without a License
  • Electrical without a License

Given the Notice to Appear:

Desiderio Carlos Carreiro, 38, of Palm Coast

  • Construction without a License
  • Electrical without a License

Charging affidavits for 5 other individuals for Construction without a License and/or Electrical work without a License were given to the State Attorney’s Office and hold the potential to be filed formally.

(Photos of the questioning of Haggerty courtesy of the FCSO)

“Thank you to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the City of Palm Coast for their cooperation,” says Staly. “A special thank you to the Flagler County Home Builders Association, which provided the house that was used in the undercover operation.”

In Volusia County, the same operation resulted in the arrest of:

Robert Pagliuso, 62, of Port Orange with Sergeants Plumbing and Drain

  • Engaging in contracting business without certification
  • Practicing electrical contracting without certification
  • Failure to secure workers’ compensation coverage

David Smith, 72, of Deltona with Space Drain Cleaning Repair and Maintenance

  • Engaging in contracting business without certification
  • Failure to secure workers’ compensation coverage

Derek Baxter, 43, of Deltona with Way Cool Handyman

  • Engaging in contracting business without certification

Timothy J. Wolfe, 31, of DeLand with Knock It Out LLC

  • Engaging in contracting business without certification
  • Failure to secure workers’ compensation coverage
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia

Wolfe’s girlfriend Michelle Varnadoe, 36, of South Daytona was also arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia.

Andre Daniels, 47, of Deltona

  • Engaging in contracting business without certification

Kyle Chace, 30, of Deltona

  • Engaging in contracting business without certification
  • Possession of a Schedule II narcotic
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Driving while license suspended or revoked

Samuel Lemire, 31, of Orlando

  • Failure to secure workers’ compensation coverage
  • Falsely identifying self as a licensed contractor

Travis Schmidt, 29, of Apopka

  • Possession of Alprazolam (Xanax)

Given the Notice to Appear:

Rickey Heath, 31, of Orlando

  • Possession of marijuana

Of those arrested in Volusia County, contractor David Smith told the undercover detective when asked to fix a water heater on top of some leaky pipes, “I’m not supposed to, but I can put it in, but don’t say I did. I don’t have a license.”

“Individuals who operate as contractors while unlicensed pose a multi-prong threat to Floridians,” says Jeff Atwater, Florida CFO. “Not only are they performing work that they have not been properly trained to complete, they are likely operating without adequate workers’ compensation coverage, leaving both workers and homeowners at risk of exorbitant costs in the event of an on-the-job injury. A combination of investigative forces across state and local agencies play a huge role in protecting Florida’s honest, hard-working contractors, and I’m pleased to see another successful multi-agency effort to hold bad actors accountable.”

If you suspect unlicensed activity in your area, contact the Unlicensed Activity Hotline at 1-866-532-1440 or via email at ULA@myfloridalicense.com. Unlicensed activity can carry misdemeanor or felony charges.

For more information on building permit requirements and licensed contractors, call the City of Palm Coast Building Department at 386-986-3780 or visit the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation website.

Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2017.

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Comments are closed.

Top

newsdaytonabeach.com

WNDB EOE Report


 Southern Stone Communications
© 2016 Southern Stone Communications