‘Predator of the Elderly:’ Unlicensed contractor behind bars, latest victims in Pinellas County

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is calling Richard J. Niger a “predator of the elderly.”

Investigators accuse the unlicensed contractor of collecting money for remodeling projects, doing shoddy work or not finishing work and then disappearing.

“He’s not going to get away with it,” said PCSO spokesman Dan Difrancesco. “Folks like this that are predators, especially the ones that are preying on the elderly, we’re going to go after them. We’re going to catch them and we’re going to put them in jail.”

Niger was arrested Monday after investigators say he left Harry Agoado and his wife, Leta Bazo, with unfinished projects all over their home. The couple has been without a working kitchen since November.

The couple paid Niger a down payment of $5,000 but were sent subcontractors that did poor work.

Wood is ripped off the outside of the home. There’s no sink and all contents from cabinets are still sitting in the dining room because the cabinets were never finished.

Bazo said Niger gained their trust and even called her “grandma.”

“He said all the right things and said he was going to correct everything and everything would be perfect,” Bazo said.

Niger has been busted for unlicensed work before. He was arrested in October and charged with exploitation of a 90-year-old woman. He even spent time in prison from 2005 to 2008 for exploitation of the elderly and grand theft of the elderly.

Niger faces 20 charges, including 13 felonies.

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