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Operation Freeloader nabs 14 unlicensed contractors

August 20, 2014
Lehigh Acres Citizen

Beginning Aug. 12, members of the Lee County Sheriff's Office Economic Crimes Unit conducted an operation targeting unlicensed contractors operating in Lee County.

During the three day operation, 14 people were arrested for unlicensed contracting. Additionally, many of the individuals failed to have required workers' compensation insurance or a required exemption and were additionally charged with a violation of workers' compensation laws.

The operation involved agents and officers from the Lee County Sheriff's Office Economic Crimes Unit, Public Services Division and South District, along with Florida Division of Insurance Fraud, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and the Lee County Department of Community Development, Contractor Licensing and Code Enforcement Divisions.

The operation utilized a single-family dwelling in the San Carlos Park area.

During the operation, undercover agents contacted a number of individuals from various internet websites such as Porch.Com and Craigslist, where the individuals were advertising construction related services. Arriving at the location in San Carlos Park, the individuals met with undercover officers and willingly agreed to offer proposals to perform various construction type tasks at the target residence.

The work proposed requires the service provider to be a properly licensed contractor, the contractor must carry workers' compensation coverage or they must have filed a certificate of exemption.

The following individuals lacked the required electrical, plumbing and general contracting licensing needed to perform construction related activities and were arrested:

- John A. Bradley, 54, of 118 S.W. 49th Terrace, Cape Coral, was charged with unlicensed contracting and workers' comp violation.

- Mark Diephouse, 46, of 2329 King Lake Blvd., Naples, was charged with unlicensed contracting and workers' comp violation.

- Joseph John Ganzel, 29, of 901 N.W. 24th Place, Cape Coral, was charged with unlicensed contracting and workers' comp violation.

- James Flynn Jr., 64, of 3849 Gary Road, Bonita Springs, was charged with unlicensed contracting and workers' comp violation.

- Andrea Jean Wittenborn, 48, of 2474 Case Lane, North Fort Myers, was charged with unlicensed contracting and workers' comp violation.

- Carl T. Wittenborn, 49, of 2474 Case Lane, North Fort Myers, was charged with unlicensed contracting and workers' comp violation.

- Luis Gabriel Guerra, 53, of 9751 Chelford Court, Naples, was charged with unlicensed contracting.

- Robert James Wills, 60, of 10706 Bahia Terrado Circle, Fort Myers, was charged with unlicensed contracting.

- Juan F. Alban-Izquierdo, 37, of 20622 Larino Loop, Estero, was charged with unlicensed contracting.

- Dennis Edward Romstadt, 69, of 1209 Orchid Court, Naples, was charged with unlicensed contracting.

- Richard Wasielewski, 58, of 9694 Blue Stone Circle, Fort Myers, was charged with unlicensed contracting and workers' comp violation.

- Alfredo Martinez-Cruz, 36, of 6445 College Park Circle, Naples, was charged with unlicensed contracting and workers' comp violation.

- Edward Michael Mason, 41, of 1920 Index Court, Lehigh Acres, was charged with unlicensed contracting.

- Neil Leslie Cottrell, 50, of 16873 Windcrest Drive, Fort Myers, was charged with unlicensed contracting.

The above individuals were also issued civil citations with mandatory court dates from Lee County Code Enforcement for unlicensed contracting and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation issued notices to cease and desist.

Three additional individuals were issued civil citations from code enforcement, along with notices to cease and desist" and were released at the scene.

As our Southwest Florida economy continues to improve so does the construction industry. Unfortunately, there are many unlicensed contractors who do not possess required licensing, often lacking in the training and experience necessary to perform "safe" work.

In many cases, unlicensed contractors do not obtain the required permits in order to keep county officials from inspecting their work.

Consumers can verify professional licenses with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation online at: www.myfloridalicense.com, by calling (850) 487-1395 or by downloading the free DBPR Mobile app through iTunes or the Google Play store.

Citizens are asked to report any suspected unlicensed activity by calling the Unlicensed Activity Hotline at (866) 532-1440, or by calling the Lee County Sheriff's Office at (239) 477-1000.

The LCSO and partner agencies will continue to "nail down" unlicensed contractors.

"These people are renegades," Sheriff Mike Scott said. "Whether they're lowballing tree trimming jobs or just plain doing shoddy work, they give a bad name to all the licensed legitimate contractors out there. We will continue to do operations like this to weed out the bad apples."

Source: Lee County Sheriff's Office

 
 

 

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