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Thursday, Aug 21, 2014
Pasco Tribune

Nine charged with unlicensed contracting

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NEW PORT RICHEY -

Pasco County authorities snared nine unlicensed contractors this week in a sting involving Craigslist advertisements.

On May 3 and Saturday, detectives called the contractors, who advertised on Craigslist, to a home in Holiday to do work that required a license.

The work ranged from roofing to air conditioning repair to replacing windows and doors.

When they couldn’t produce a license upon giving undercover detectives a written proposal to do the work, they were arrested. A charge of working without workers’ compensation was added because it is required for contractors unless they have been exempted.

“We try to help both the consumer and those who are actually properly licensed,” Pasco sheriff’s Sgt. Justin Ross said.

He said that for consumers, this helps ensure work is done by licensed contractors who do a job that is up to code. If a project is not up to code, a homeowner will have to pay another contractor to get it to that point. Homeowners also could be fined if a contractor does not get a permit for the work.

The sting also is meant to help those legally licensed to work by making sure they aren’t undercut by cheap labor, Ross said.

“A lot of these people if they’re not licensed — part of the licensure is going through safety procedures and knowing how to properly do work,” Ross said. “They test to make sure that the people actually know what they’re doing.”

The sting was a joint investigation of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office Economic Crimes Unit, Pasco County Department of Contractor Licensing, Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Workers’ Compensation Bureau of Compliance and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations.

To properly hire a contractor, the sheriff’s office recommends asking to see a license and telling the contractor upfront it will be verified; do not pay more than 10 percent down or $1,000, whichever is less; get three bids on the job; check references; get a written contract; beware of those who ask for money upfront or will only accept cash or those who go door to door to drum up business; do not sign a certificate of completion until you are satisfied with the work.

Of the nine contractors found in violation, eight were taken to Land O’ Lakes Jail after being arrested. One was given a notice to appear.

Those arrested are:

Christopher Nazario, 43, was charged with working without workers’ compensation, contracting without a license and violation of probation. He was arrested May 3 and remains in the Land O’ Lakes Jail because of the probation violation.

Harry Bynum, 47, charged with working without workers’ compensation and contracting without a license, was arrested May 3 and released Saturday after posting $1,150 bail.

Adam Barnhart, 33, charged with working without workers’ compensation and contracting without a license, was arrested May 3 and released Saturday after posting $1,150 bail.

Marcelino Loperena, 56, charged with working without workers’ compensation, was arrested May 3 and released Saturday after posting $5,000 bail.

James Pastor, 49, charged with working without workers’ compensation and contracting without a license, was arrested May 3 and released Saturday after posting $1,150 bail.

Adam Pitt, 41, charged with working without workers’ compensation and contracting without a license, was arrested Saturday and released the same day after posting $5,150 bail.

Eric Wieszchowski, 42, charged with working without workers’ compensation and contracting without a license, was arrested Saturday and released hours later after posting $5,150 bail.

Scott Wieszchowski, 45, was charged with contracting without a license. He was not taken into custody but given a notice to appear.

Blair Goodrow, 43, charged with working without workers’ compensation and contracting without a license, was arrested Saturday and released the same day after posting $5,150 bail.


edaniels@tampatrib.com

(813) 371-1860

Twitter: @EDanielsTBO

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