Crime

These contractors didn’t have required licenses for work they were offering, cops say

Six people are facing charges after the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office says the people arrested were offering to do contracting work without the proper licensing, according to a news release.

In a two-day undercover operation, detectives partnered 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).

According to the sheriff’s office, investigators reached out to those advertising to do home repairs such as electrical, plumbing or framing that required a license.

The contractors were called to a home in southern Sarasota County as part of the operation. There, an undercover detective asked them to remove a structural wall and rebuild structural elements, according to probable cause affidavits.

When the contractors arrived and offered a proposal for the work, investigators checked a DBPR database for licensing, contractor registration and the proper worker’s compensation coverage for the services they offered.

As a result, six people were arrested for not having the proper licensing or worker’s compensation required for the job, according to the sheriff’s office.

  • Tomas Brejza, 42, of Sarasota, faces a charge of unlicensed contractor;
  • Kris Johnson, 67, of Englewood, faces charges of unlicensed contractor and worker’s compensation fraud;
  • Jeffrey Lexvold, 49, of Port Charlotte, faces a charge of unlicensed contractor;
  • Miles Mitchell, 55, of Venice, faces charges of unlicensed contractor and worker’s compensation fraud;
  • Paige Pierce, 46, of Venice, faces charges of unlicensed contractor and worker’s compensation fraud;
  • Douglas Pierce, 47, of Venice, faces charges of unlicensed contractor and worker’s compensation fraud.

“This is a good reminder why consumers should always seek licensed contractors to perform work on their home or business,” Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight said in a news release. “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.”

Contractor licenses can be verified online at myfloridalicense.com, by calling 850-487-1395 or downloading the DBPR app. For specific Sarasota County licenses, consumers can call the Customer Service and Permit Center at 941-861-6678 or 941-861-3029.

To report an unlicensed contractor or someone working without a permit, call 941-861-5000.

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