HUDSON, Fla. — The owner of a Pasco County boat repair and salvage business has been arrested, accused of operating a chop shop.
An arrest report for Scott Sands states, “It appears the defendant is running a chop shop as he is stealing boat parts from customer’s boats and selling them on another person’s boat.”
ABC Action News has learned, Pasco deputies executed search warrants at Liberty Entrepreneurs located at 144608 Marina Drive in Hudson.
According to deputies, the company is also known as Independent Salvage and Independent Industries. They say Sands operated the business at four different locations in Pasco County.
Deputies say that starting in 2019, Sands constantly tried to stay one step ahead of angry customers.
“The defendant greets the victims at his business location, informs them it will take approximately three weeks to complete the work on their boat and, more often than not, never completes the work,” the arrest report states.
The report details Sands’ next steps in the reported scheme, “The defendant removes the motor and other parts from the victim’s boat. The victim’s original boat motor parts that are in good shape are either used for another boat or sold off on various websites.”
“It just amazes me that this guy got away with this for so long,” said Alfred Lafreniere.
Lafreniere said he’s out more than $4,000 after taking his boat engine in for repair work.
“Of course I’m right back to where I started with an engine that needs to be rebuilt.”
Deputies say Sands used customers' boats to strip for parts to be sold.
They believe more than 60 people fell victim, many former customers each losing at least a few thousand dollars.
“I’ve taken a financial loss for just about a year now because of Scott Sands and I hope he gets what he deserves,” said John Klecha. “When someone takes you for that kind of money, you know, $10,000, it’s a lot man.”
ABC Action News has learned, former employees came forward with information into the reported scheme.
Those former employees told investigators that Sands bought motor vehicle parts to use on boat engines because they were cheaper.
“He could have killed somebody with a boat catching on fire or exploding,” said Lafreniere.
In the arrest report, Sands told deputies that he fell behind on work because of the coronavirus.
“I’m just glad to see this finally is getting the justice this guy deserves and I hope he spends the rest of his life in prison,” said Klecha.
Read the full police report below: