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Hillsborough Co. Sheriff's Office cracks down on unlicensed contractors following Hurricane Irma

HCSO cracks down on unlicensed contractors
Posted at 1:48 PM, Nov 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-07 17:14:48-05

On Tuesday, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office plans to release the results of a three-month long criminal investigation involving unlicensed contractors following Hurricane Irma. 

The Sheriff's Office says unlicensed contractors can offer services at a lesser cost, but are not regulated, and their work and materials may be substandard. There is no warranty and the work is done without required permits and inspections, causing costly reparis, code violations and other liabilities.

During "Operation Rebuild," detectives targeted these unlicensed contractors by "employing an extended covert inestigation."

Detectives gathered information from several sources used by homeowners used to contact contractors such as Angie's List, Home Adviser, Facebook and Craig's List along with other citizen complaints.

310 potential unlicensed contractors were identified, 114 of which returned calls for quotes and met with detectives, and 73 of which criminal cases were filed for fraud and unlicensed contracting.

Unit detectives received written quotes from the 73 subjects totaling $1,946,882.40. 

Authorities say the potential economic impact to Hillsborough County homeowners and legitimate contractors would be in excess of $4 million.

They also used "Operation Swift Wind" to target unlicensed contractors conducting business during a state of emergency, which was in effect due to Hurricane Irma.

Five people were arrested for felony charges 

The following arrests were made in the bust:

Alvaro Rojas
DOB: 12/09/1988
Contracting without a license during a state of emergency.

Richard Hanke
DOB: 08/14/0960
Contracting without a license during a state of emergency

Dennis Hollingsworth
DOB: 01/04/1995
Contracting without a license during a state of emergency.

Gino Michaels
DOB: 02/28/1990
Contracting without a license during a state of emergency.

Angelo Thomas
Contracting without a license during a state of emergency.

Heath McCarthy
DOB: 03/11/1976
Contracting without a license subsequent offense and Workman's Compensation Fraud.

Anna E. Johnson
DOB: 08/05/1979
Warrants: FTA Grand Theft, FTA Contracting without a license, FTA Petit Theft, Workman's Compensation Fraud, and others.
Unlicensed contracting charges also direct filed in our case.

Joseph Zink
DOB: 07/05/1965
Contracting without a license and violation of his parole (kidnapping).

The county reminds you to beware of:
    * Door to door sales or internet offers for home improvement which seem to good of a deal.
    * Contractors who ask for large sums of money up front, especially cash. 
    * A contractor who asks you the homeowner to obtain your own building permit or that the work can be done without one.
    * A contractor who will not show you his contractor's license and insurance documents upon demand.

Search a contractor to see if they are licensed by clicking here