Mother defends son after he was arrested in unlicensed contractor sting

Posted at 11:31 PM, May 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-19 23:31:07-04

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said several men are facing charges for bidding on a fake job without having the proper license to do the work.

For two days, detectives posed as the owners of a home in Zephyrhills. They said unlicensed contractors showed up for their sting operation. Richard Beckwith, Cory Martin, and Christopher Clark were arrested.

Beckwith and Clark were charged with “fail to secure workers compensation insurance coverage and contracting without a license." Martin was charged with the same thing on top of possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia.

Authorities said they found the unlicensed contractors online, offering their services. They said Beckwith, Clark, and Martin showed up to bid on the phony job.

“I feel like it was entrapment,” Joyce Clark said.

Clark defended her son, saying he was looking for work.

“There was no reason for it. As far as I know, he did no work for anybody,” Joyce Clark said.

The sheriff’s office said stings like this one protect homeowners from people posing as contractors. People who do not have a license or insurance and often take off without completing the work.

“A lot of times we find that they're just trying to save a dollar by hiring the handyman to do the work, but at the end of the day they seemed to get burned,” Detective Tyler Croker said.

Detective Croker said homeowners need to do their research by verifying a contractor’s license with the state, checking references, and insisting on a contract. The detective said people should not pay more than 10 percent up front.

“They come off as the experts, been in the business for years, and really fool these people in thinking they’re going to get the best work out of them,” Croker said.

Deborah Wilson heard about it and she’s upset. She rents the home next to the one that was used for the sting operation.

“It’s aggravating, you know, they need to do what everybody has to do follow the law,” Wilson said.

Joyce Clark said her son, Christopher, is still locked up.

“He does need a license, but you have to start somewhere,” Joyce Clark said.

According to authorities, a fourth person bid on the fake job by email and they expect that person to possibly face charges too.