Better Call Behnken: Paving scam victims get money back from unlicensed contractor

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — An unlicensed contractor, exposed by an 8 On Your Side investigation, spent 95 days in jail and has now paid back his victims as part of a plea agreement, according to the Polk County State Attorney’s Office.

“I am pleased with the resolution of this case,” State Attorney Brian Haas wrote in a statement to News Channel 8. “We were able to obtain full restitution for the victims and the defendant will be prevented from victimizing other citizens in the future. He will be on close supervision and prohibited from engaging in any form of home repair or soliciting on behalf of any employer. He also served time in jail.”

The first victim to turn to 8 On Your Side’s Better Call Behnken was Glenda Crow and her husband. They paid Keith Rockefeller, an unlicensed traveling paver, $2,200 to pave their driveway. They ended up with weeds growing through the thin asphalt.

Sheriff Grady Judd said this is the work of a traveling paving company. He explains companies from northern states travel to Florida every winter and rip off homeowners. They go door-to-door offering their services and usually tell homeowners they can offer a “deal” on leftover asphalt from a nearby job.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office issued a warrant, and Rockefeller was arrested in his home state of New York and brought back to Polk County. That was in April. He was released from jail July 6.

“Because of Channel 8 and the sheriff’s office working together, we were able to get restitution for the victims and we got Keith probation,” Judd said.

Rockefeller faced 11 charges. He ended up paying his victims back a total of $3,200.

Haas said he hopes this outcome sends a clear message to other unlicensed contractors.

“Our goal is to protect our citizens from being victimized by these swindlers,” Haas wrote. “For those people considering one of these scams against our citizens, the message is clear: we won’t tolerate this activity in this circuit.

As part of his five-year probation, Rockefeller is prohibited from running a business in Florida, soliciting for someone else’s business or doing any home repair in the state.

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