Unlicensed contractor with history of similar crimes arrested in Sarasota

acastillo@bradenton.comApril 3, 2014 

SARASOTA -- An unlicensed contractor has been arrested and charged with 34 new charges by the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.

According to a press release, Jose Manuel Rivera is charged with 33 felony counts of unlicensed contracting and one misdemeanor count of unlicensed contracting with a previous conviction.

The 43-year-old has a history of similar crimes and was found guilty of unlicensed contracting in Manatee County back in 2012 following his arrest in a sting by the sheriff's office there. Rivera, who lives in Sarasota, was also charged with unlicensed contracting by the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office in March 2013 for similar offenses, the news release states.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed, Rivera acted as a licensed air conditioning contractor between Feb. 28, 2013, and June 12, 2013, by advertising, contracting, and performing repairs/installations in the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) field. All of Rivera's work was reportedly done at the Bella Villano condominium complex, 4100 Central Sarasota Pkwy.

"The investigation revealed the defendant deceived the property management by claiming to be a licensed contractor for the sole purpose of gaining employment," the probable cause affidavit stated. "Over the six-month period the listed defendant submitted 33 invoices to the management company ranging from minor repairs to new installations. The accountant for the management company provided me with eight checks written to the defendant which were cashed for their full value totaling $7,764.00."

Rivera was positively identified in a photographic lineup with management personnel.

"None of the work performed by the defendant had the required permits applied," the probable cause affidavit stated. Furthermore, the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office found that Rivera is not nor has ever been a licensed contractor in the field of heating, ventilation and air conditioning. This was confirmed after a state and local database search was completed.

Rivera is currently being held on $17,000 bond.

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