The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office arrested six people on multiple charges during an undercover operation to protect citizens from unlicensed contractors.
Detectives worked 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) to contact individuals advertising home repair services that require a license to complete. As subjects arrived at the target residence in southern Sarasota County last week, the DBPR database was checked to determine if they were licensed, registered as a contractor, and/or had the required workers compensation coverage or exemption to perform the work they proposed to do.
In all, the operation resulted in four felony charges and six misdemeanor charges. The following individuals were arrested during the two-day operation:
- Tomas Brejza, DOB 08/02/76, 4041 Palau Drive, Sarasota
- Kris Johnson, DOB 01/26/52, 1051 Iowa Avenue, Englewood
- Jeffrey Lexvold, DOB 07/21/69, 4341 Fourwind Street, Port Charlotte
- Miles Mitchell, DOB 10/08/63, 4176 Englewood Road, Venice
- Paige Pierce, DOB 02/27/73, 3279 Meadow Run Court, Venice
Since 2012, the sheriff’s office has assigned detectives to investigate claims against people who engage in contracting work without proper licenses, permits or certification. A first offense usually results in a civil citation by code enforcement but subsequent violations lead to misdemeanor or felony criminal charges. The defendants also receive a cease and desist order from the State of Florida.
“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.”
“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.”
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.