North Port Police net nine in illegal contractor sting
NORTH PORT, Fla. (WWSB) - Six people have been arrested in North Port for doing unlicensed repair work in the wake of Hurricane Ian, and three more are being sought, police say.
The North Port Police Department has been a member of an unlicensed contractor task force, along with the help of the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation, established to investigate illegal building activities.
Operation Con-Tractor began Nov. 1, as detectives called advertised business numbers from the plethora of roadside signs and advertisements made on various social media sites across the city.
The alleged unlicensed contractors showed up and solicited unlawful roofing repairs, which required a licensed contractor to complete. Six physical arrests were made. Three more suspects were identified and active arrest warrants are outstanding.
Police say nearly three dozen investigations have been opened.
All of the suspects are charged with felony unlicensed contracting related offenses and more.
Those arrested are:
- Eduardo Montalvo Martinez, two counts of unlicensed contracting related offenses
- Steven Michael Dobrowski, two counts of unlicensed contracting related offenses
- Guillermo Zayas, two counts of unlicensed contracting related charges, one count possession of marijuana, one count no driver’s license
- Lee Edgar Freels, three counts of unlicensed contracting related offenses
- Cooper Kyle Marshall, two counts of unlicensed contracting related offenses
- Myer Morris Stabinsky, two counts of unlicensed contracting related offenses
Those being sought are:
- Dennis Daniel Cardona Zeron, two counts of unlicensed contracting related offenses
- Henris Eliazar Ponce Lopez, two counts of unlicensed contracting related offenses
- Chase S. Williamson, two counts of unlicensed contracting related offenses
The city urges consumers to follow these tips before hiring anyone to work on their property:
- Only hire licensed contractors and ask to see their license. Verify the license at www.myfloridalicense.com or call 850-487-1395. Licensed contractors are required by law to include their license number in all advertising. An occupational or business license is not sufficient in the construction trades.
- If the project is for repairing damage, check with your insurance company before you sign a contractor to verify that your insurance will cover the repairs.
- Obtain at least three written bids, check references, and get a written contract.
- Beware of contractors who claim to be the cheapest, solicit door-to-door, or give a post office box instead of a street address.
- Avoid any contractor who tries to convince you to personally obtain building permits or those building permits are not necessary for the project.
- Beware of alleged contractors who ask to be paid in cash or ask for large payments up front. Avoid paying cash or full payment in advance. Don’t pay more than 10 percent as a down payment. Once you’re happy with the quote, get job details, costs, and payment schedule in writing before signing the final contract.
- Avoid signing anything stating your insurance benefits will be paid directly to the contractor.
If you have information about those involved or feel you have fallen victim to illegal unlicensed contracting work or fraud, please call 941-429-7300.
If you have any building related questions, you may contact the North Port Building Division at 941-429-7044.
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