Nine arrested in unlicensed contractor sting in Pasco County

HOLIDAY, Fla. - The Pasco Sheriff's Office (PSO) is cracking down on unlicensed contractors. 

"It's important we send a clear message out there that we are going to protect our citizens," said Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco.
 
Holed up in a house in Holiday with a tattered tarp covering the roof, PSO detectives, with assistance from the Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS) and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), conducted an undercover operation aimed at unlicensed building contractors.
 
"We were targeting unlicensed contractors that were out doing work without the proper license and without workers' compensation insurance," said PSO Sgt. Justin Ross. 
 
It all started on Craigslist.  Undercover detectives reached out to people with ads offering services that require a contractor's license.  From wannabe roofers to impostor electricians, they all came to the house in Holiday thinking they were going to get a job.
 
"Once they provided the undercover officers with a proposal for work that would require a contractor's license in the state of Florida, they were arrested," Ross said.
 
In all, nine people were arrested for various charges including working without workers' compensation (a felony offense), contracting without a license (a misdemeanor), and violation of probation (a felony offense). 
 
Those arrested in the operation include:
  • Christopher Nazario - Charged with working without workers' compensation, contracting without a license, and violation of probation (grand theft). 
  • Harry Bynum - Charged with working without workers' compensation and contracting without a license.
  • Adam Barnhart - Charged with working without workers' compensation and contracting without a license.
  • Marcelino Loperena - Charged with working without workers' compensation.
  • James Pastor - Charged with working without workers' compensation and contracting without a license.
  • Adam Pitt - Charged with working without workers' compensation and contracting without a license.
  • Eric Wieszchowski - Charged with working without workers' compensation and contracting without a license.
  • Scott Wieszchowski - Charged with contracting without a license. He was given a notice to appear.
  • Blair Goodrow - Charged with working without workers' compensation and contracting without a license. 
 
Violators were each issued a notice to cease and desist by DBPR personnel.  According to the sheriff's office, if these individuals are found to be operating again without a license they will automatically be fined $2,500 per state statute. 
 
"Even if you're going to try to use the excuse 'I'm just trying to make money or I'm just trying to make ends meet,' the thing is, you're still putting our citizens at risk," Nocco said. 
 
If someone gets hurt on a job and does not have workers' compensation, Nocco said it could wind up costing the homeowner thousands of dollars. 
 
To verify whether or not someone has a valid professional license, go to www.myfloridalicense.com .
 
Unlicensed activity is illegal. You can report any suspected unlicensed activity to the email ULA@myfloridalicense.com  or you can call the Unlicensed Activity Hotline at 1-866-532-1440.
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