Citrus County building inspectors say unlicensed electrical work led to a hazardous situation
7:09 PM, Oct 26, 2015
7:56 PM, Oct 26, 2015
CITRUS COUNTY, Fla - A dozen residents living in Sportsman Cove Mobile Home Park in Homosassa have been without power for seven days.
Duke Energy cut off the power last week Monday following more than 100 code violations cited by Citrus County building inspectors on September 18.
Tenant John Tegtmeyer told ABC Action New his three kids are now staying with relatives. He added he has had to throw out all the food in his refrigerator and uses a candle for light.
"It is impossible," said Tegtmeyer. "This isn't living, this is surviving."
Tegtmeyer is among a dozen residents facing the same fate.
A code inspection report obtained by ABC Action News revealed "that all but one of the electrical devices in the park were either not in use or had been tampered with."
Building inspectors noted illegal branch circuits that had been tied into the services and run across the ground to various other locations, conductors with splices covered with only electrical tape, exposed wires running through water, several of the services were missing cover plates and/or breaker knock-outs that left the internal energized components exposed and some of the services had overhead connections that were not made by Duke Energy.
"The main hazard was the wiring was done by an unlicensed person without a permit," said Carl Jones, director of the Citrus County Building Department.
According to the inspection report, Darwin Nash, a tenant at the park, admitted he "was the person who installed the illegal electrical."
When ABC Action News spoke to Nash, he admitted he is not a licensed contractor nor an electrician. He added while he has done electrical work in the park, the hazardous wiring was not his work.
"The wiring that they are indicating in this park at this point and time is wiring and defaults that was here when I moved in," said Nash.
Nash denied ever seeing the dozens of photos taken by inspectors.
However, he was there at the time of the inspection and can be seen in some of the photos.
Documentation provided by county officials shows a Duke Energy technician was along for the inspection and agreed power needed to be shut off.
"It was an immediate danger to life and property," Jones said.
Jones said the owners of the park, Rick Michalowski and his wife Barbara, and have the park listed under the Renzi Trust. The owners live in Cincinnati.
According to Jones, Michalowski was told he had two options: he could either hire a licensed electrician to obtain and permit and correct the violations or he could disconnect power to the services.
Park residents provided ABC Action News with an itemized bill from a local electrician who came out and surveyed the property. However, the electrician did not make any repairs and noted on the receipt, "All lots have hazards problems and need immediate repair."
However, no work was done.
Still, when Duke Energy officials returned to inspect the property days later, all of the wiring and electric poles had been removed.
At this point, Duke Energy officials declined to shut off the power believing the property was brought into compliance.
Jones immediately fired off a letter stating a licensed contractor had not been to the property and no documentation was ever provided proving the work was done by a legitimate control.
Duke Energy, citing liability, immediately shut the power off.
According to Jones, Michalowski decided to also back the shutting off or power.
"He also me that it was his intention to remove all of the park's infrastructure to include electrical, plumbing and septic, and to rebuild the park back with all new code compliant electrical and plumbing," Jones wrote in a memo to the Board of County Commissioners.
Michaloswki also applied for a demolition permit and county records show the permit was approved.
Tenants now realize, they have to find a new home despite having paid their rent on time. Duke Energy also added the electric bill for the property was paid.
"I've already packed up all my food," Tegtmeyer explained.
TENANT, OWNER INVOLVED IN LEGAL BATTLE
According to Nash, Michalowski hired him as the park manager in 2010.
Michalowski, who declined an on camera interview despite being in town, denied he ever employed Nash.
Michalowski claims Nash acted on his own accord and never had permission to do any work on the property.
In February, Nash filed a $278,318 lien against Renzi Trust, seeking payment for five years of maintenance work on the property.
Currently, Sportsman Cove LLC, Parkway Town Properties LLC, and Barbara Michalwosk, have six separate pending eviction suits against Nash this year, court records reveal.