VIDEO: 16 people arrested, accused of working without a contracting license in Sarasota County

VIDEO: 16 people arrested, accused of working without a contracting license in Sarasota County

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - For at least the third time this year, the sheriff's office conducted a sting targeting people working without a contracting license in Sarasota County.

Over a three-day sting last week, 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 (DBPR). Together, they contact people advertising home repair services that require a license to complete.

When those people arrived at a home in Sarasota County, instead of a repair, they found detectives waiting. Detectives checked the DBPR database to find out if the contractors had a license and the required workers compensation coverage or exemption.

In all, 16 people were charged. Detectives say one of those people, Andrew Wheeler, is a convicted felon with dozens of prior charges including for Burglary, Forgery, Fraud, Dealing in Stolen Property, Vehicle Theft and more.

Here is the list of all those arrested and the charged they face:

  • Tarek Bader, 60, of Nokomis, is charged with two counts of Unlicensed Contracting and Workers Compensation Fraud
  • Eric Barbera, 60, of Nokomis, is charged with two counts of Unlicensed Contracting and Workers Compensation Fraud
  • Peter Blackburn, 60, of Sarasota, is charged with two counts of Unlicensed Contracting and Workers Compensation Fraud
  • Lawrence Corrente, 64, of Venice, is charged with two counts of Unlicensed Contracting and Workers Compensation Fraud
  • Dennis Delfauro, 27, of Sarasota, is charged with two counts of Unlicensed Contracting and Workers Compensation Fraud
  • Moises Gonzalez, 47, of Sarasota, is charged with two counts of Unlicensed Contracting and Workers Compensation Fraud
  • Claude Goulet, 55, of Venice, is charged with two counts of Unlicensed Contracting and Workers Compensation Fraud
  • Markel Hasankolli, 39, of North Port, is charged with two counts of Unlicensed Contracting and Workers Compensation Fraud
  • Constantine Mamakos, 57, of Sarasota, is charged with two counts of Unlicensed Contracting and Workers Compensation Fraud
  • Fredrick Moscato, 59, of Bradenton, is charged with two counts of Unlicensed Contracting and Workers Compensation Fraud
  • Frank Troia, Jr., 63, of Bradenton, is charged with two counts of Unlicensed Contracting and Workers Compensation Fraud
  • Kevin Warren, 49, of Sarasota, is charged with two counts of Unlicensed Contracting and Workers Compensation Fraud
  • Andrew Wheeler, 30, of Sarasota, is charged with two counts of Unlicensed Contracting and Workers Compensation Fraud
  • James White, 61, of North Port, is charged with two counts of Unlicensed Contracting and Workers Compensation Fraud
  • Jason Worley, 44, of Bradenton, is charged with two counts of Unlicensed Contracting and Workers Compensation Fraud

The sheriff’s office says a first offense for working with a license usually results in a civil citation by code enforcement, but subsequent violations lead to misdemeanor or felony criminal charges. Those charged also receive a cease and desist order from the State of Florida.

“Maintenance operations like these should be a good reminder for consumers to always seek licensed contractors to perform work on their homes or businesses,” said Sheriff Tom Knight. “Consumers are exposing themselves to financial and physical risk by allowing these people to enter their home, unlicensed, and in some cases, with criminal histories. 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.”

“With the help of our local law enforcement partners, DBPR is committed to removing unlicensed contractors and giving our citizens the confidence that the construction work will be done honestly and according to professional standards,” said DBPR Secretary Halsey Beshears. “I commend the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office for their hard work during Operation Freelancer to protect consumers against these bad actors.”

Florida law establishes rules and guidelines for obtaining professional licensure, and the people who have met these requirements are held to professional standards. Consumers can verify licenses with the DBPR online 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. 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.

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