SARASOTA (WWSB) - Six people who the sheriff’s office says were doing contract work without a license are facing charges following a sting operation in Sarasota County.
Detectives teamed up with the Sarasota County Building Department, the Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Insurance Fraud and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation to reach out to people who were advertising home repair services that require a license to complete.
“The aim of this operation is for the people that are doing the wrong thing that we’re out there to protect the citizens of Sarasota County and we’re out there to go ahead and stop them and let them know that Sarasota County we don’t authorize this and will not allow them to be doing any kind of construction work within our county," Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Adam Kaskey said.
As people arrived at the target home in southern Sarasota County last week, detectives were waiting to see if they were licensed, registered, and if they had the insurance coverage required to perform the work.
Six people were arrested over the two-day operation, including:
- Tomas Brejza, 42, of Sarasota
- Kris Johnson, 67, of Englewood
- Jeffrey Lexvold, 49, of Port Charlotte
- Miles Mitchell, 55, of Venice
- Douglas Pierce, unknown age
- Paige Pierce, 46, of Venice
The sheriff's office says the total charges for the group are four felonies and six misdemeanors.
“This is a good reminder why consumers should always seek licensed contractors to perform work on their home or business,” said Sheriff Tom Knight. “Residents and business owners are exposing themselves to financial and physical risk by allowing these people to enter their home unlicensed. Not only does this illegal activity pose a threat to consumers, but it also directly effects legitimate business owners operating within the parameters of the law.”
Consumers can verify if the contractor they’re looking to work with has a license by visiting the Department of Business and Professional Regulation at www.myfloridalicense.com, by calling 850.487.1395, or downloading the free DBPR Mobile app through iTunes or the Google Play store.
To check a Sarasota County license, call the Customer Service and Permit Center at 941-861-6678 or 941-861-3029.
“When Floridians need to make improvements or repairs to their home, they deserve to have the confidence that the work will be done honestly, completely, and according to professional standards that are designed to protect them and their families,” said DBPR Secretary Halsey Beshears. “I appreciate the hard work of our state and local partners in Operation Hammer Down whose support helps bring both enforcement and awareness to this important public concern.”
To report someone you suspect is acting as an unlicensed contractor or performing work without a permit, call 941-861-5000. For more information visit https://www.scgov.net/government/planning-and-development-services/building .