5 arrested in 3-month investigation into construction fraud after Irma

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Five people were arrested and charged with construction fraud after Hurricane Irma hit the Tampa Bay area, and 73 others were charged during an investigation that started in June.

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister announced the results of a three-month criminal investigation called Operation Rebuild and Operation Swift Wind into unlicensed contractors. It was part of the Homeland Security Division Construction Fraud Unit.

The Florida Building Code requires a person(s) involved in building, improving, and/or demolition of a public or private building or structure to first obtain the corresponding contractor license for the scope of the work to be completed.

Arrested for contracting without a license during a state of emergency:

  • Alvaro Rojas
  • Richard Hanke
  • Dennis Hollingsworth
  • Gino Michaels
  • Angelo Thomas
  • Heath McCarthy – Contracting without a license subsequent offense and Workman’s Compensation Fraud.
  • Anna E. Johnson – Warrants: FTA Grand Theft, FTA Contracting without a license, FTA Petit Theft, Workman’s Compensation Fraud, and others.
  • Joseph Zink – Contracting without a license and violation of his parole (kidnapping)

Unlicensed contractors can be appealing to consumers as they can offer services at a lesser cost.

The unlicensed contractor is not regulated, their work and the materials used may be substandard, they provide no warranty, and the work is done without the required permits and inspections. These scenarios can cause costly repairs, code violations, and other liabilities.

What you can do:

  • Verify license
  • Be wary of paying cash up front
  • Report suspicious activity

MORE TOP STORIES:

WFLA.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s