17 people arrested in unlicensed contractor investigation, cops say
More than a dozen people were arrested after investigators say the contractors offered to make repairs without legally required licensing.
The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office continued its Operation Hammer Down over the weekend, with a three-day operation that sought such contractors.
Those arrested face a total of 21 felony charges and 15 misdemeanors, mostly consisting of unlicensed contracting and workers compensation fraud.
Four of the 17 arrested were from Bradenton.
Amie L. Criss, 36, and Phillip G. Greenwell, 58, were charged with unlicensed contracting and workers compensation fraud.
James L. Tate, 53, faces the same charges plus an additional charge of possession of a controlled substance.
Oscar Cortez, 25, also faces a charge of possession of marijuana under 20 grams.
Others arrested included:
Phil Van Brandt, Sarasota
Paul Sorke, North Port
James A. Pusateri Jr., Englewood
David Nondorf, Venice
Jeffrey J. Levelle, Englewood
Julius Kubricky, Sarasota
Michael Kropsch, North Port
Forest C. Freeman, Sarasota
Chad A. Fagenbaum, Venice
George W. Dills, Venice
Charles H. Davis Jr., Venice
Antonio Caputo, Rotonda West
Stanley B. Brown, Nokomis
Contractors were contacted after they advertised home repairs that required proper licensing to complete, according to the news release.
When the contractors arrived last week at a home selected by the sheriff’s office in south Sarasota County, investigators with the sheriff’s office, Florida Department of Financial Services and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation checked databases to see if the person was appropriately licensed for the job, registered as a contractor and had the required workers compensation.
The first part of the Hammer Down investigation in April resulted in six arrests.
“These arrests serve as a strong reminder to always do your research before selecting someone to work on your home or business,” Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight said in a released statement. “Consumers are exposing themselves to financial and physical risk by allowing these people to enter their home unlicensed. Not only does this pose a threat to consumers, it also directly effects legitimate business owners doing the right thing and operating within the parameters of the law.”
Consumers looking for a contractor can check Sarasota County licenses by calling the Customer Service and Permit Center at 941-861-6678 or 941-861-3029. State licenses through the Department of Business and Professional Regulation can be verified online at myfloridalicense.com, by calling 850-487-1395, or downloading the free DBPR application to smart phones.
Reports of a suspected unlicensed contractor or work being done without proper permits can be made by calling 941-861-5000.