MANATEE -- An undercover sting operation targeting unlicensed contractors and contractors without workers' compensation insurance in Manatee County resulted in 11 arrests, the Florida Department of Financial Services said Friday.
The three-day operation was a multi-agency effort that included the Florida Division of Insurance Fraud, the Department of Business & Professional Regulation, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, Holmes Police Department and Manatee County Code Enforcement.
Those arrested were: Jarrod David Roan, 38; David James Wollard, 51; Michael Dean Mosley II, 45; Julian Lowell Culbreath, 49; Lee Entler, 48; Michael Todd Blumin; 37, Ernest Alexis, 37; Franklin Nelson Childress, 48; Richard Murphy, 57; Warren Edward Howard, 54; and James Mark Todd, 59.
They were each charged with working as an unlicensed contractor and working without workers' compensation. All 11 were also fined by code enforcement and issued a cease-and-desist order.
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Investigators set up the operation at an uninhabited home in Manatee County and contractors were called to perform jobs at the home.
If convicted, the defendants all face up to five years prison for each workers' compensation charge. For the unlicensed-contractor charge, they face an additional year in prison if they are a first-time offender, or five years for repeat offenders.
The DIF conducts similar operations throughout the state every few of months in a different county. In December 2013, the first multi-agency operation was conducted in Manatee County, where investigators also targeted unlicensed contractors and those operating without workers' compensation insurance.
During two-day 2013 operation, "Operation Unhandyman," nine people were arrested after responding to newspaper ads, Craigslist and other forms of advertising. Those arrested were called to a home in Bradenton by undercover law officers and offered a offer a quote on construction such as plumbing, electrical work or roofing.
Prior to the appointments, background checks had been conducted. Conversations were recorded and once the "homeowner" secured a quote from an unlicensed suspect, an arrest was made.
Anyone with information about suspected insurance fraud should call 1-800-378-0445. Tipsters can remain anonymous and be eligible for up to a $25,000 reward through the Department of Financial Service's Anti-Fraud Reward Program.
Professional licenses can be verified online at www.myfloridalicense.com.
Any suspected unlicensed activity should be reported by emailing ULA@myfloridalicense.com, calling the Unlicensed Activity Hotline at 1-866-532-1440 or downloading the DBPR Mobile app.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can reach her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012.