Volusia, Flagler Sheriff's Offices, state agencies target unlicensed contractors

By Erin Murray, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, June 16, 2017, 10:17 PM EDT

The Volusia and Flagler County Sheriff's Offices made several arrests in separate operations meant to catch subjects suspected of performing home contracting work without the proper licenses.

  • Subjects arrested during undercover sting operations
  • Operations used detectives posing as homeowners
  • 10 arrested, 3 given notice to appear

In Volusia County, it was called "Operation CON-tractor," while in Flagler County detectives called it "Operation Wrong Number." In both operations, detectives posed as homeowners at decoy houses in order to draw the suspects out to do estimates for contract work.

“I am not a general contractor, I only do what I am licensed to do,” said one suspect to the undercover deputies.

In total, 10 arrests have been made between two different counties.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood and Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said the number of unlicensed contractors getting hired to do work is becoming a big problem.

“I can just tell you how prevalent this is: of the 18 we called, only 13 came," said Staley. "Five said they were too busy to come."

All the people arrested were confirmed as unlicensed by the Department of Business Professional Regulation.

“Oh it’s very prevalent and it’s tough," said Tony DiNizo, Volusia Building Industry Association President. "It’s a bad, bad situation,”

DiNizo, himself a licensed contractor, told us it’s a competitive business market, and those competing without paying for licenses have an insurmountable advantage.  

“If we are competing against guys that don’t have to pay these fees, they beat us every time. So it is a difficult process,” said DiNizo.

State Attorney R.J. Larizza said licensed contractors are victims in this case, too.

“They are the victims of theft," said Larizza. "They are the folks that abide by the rules, they are the ones who get the licenses, who get the insurance, they are the ones who pay to be licensed.”

Larizza said he plans to prosecute those arrested men to the fullest. Most will get misdemeanors, but he said some could be charged with felonies.
 
Sheriff Chitwood said this sting is just the beginning of the arrests.

“They are parasites. I mean I can’t think of a better word than that," said Chitwood. "And they are good at it, they are con people."

To see if a contractor is licensed or file a complaint with the state visit: myfloridalicense.com. To file a complaint, call toll free 1-866-532-1440.