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7 Florida contractors accused of a crime

The Sarasota Sheriff's Office has made seven arrests in connection with an investigation of area contractors. The investigation is known as Operation Freelancer II, and it is aimed at protecting consumers from unlicensed contractors. The men who were arrested and accused of a crime are all said to have offered home repair services to area residents without being properly licensed.

Authorities assert that the men gave homeowners quotes for work that ranged from several hundred dollars to as much as $50,000. The individuals had advertised home repair services, and authorities set up a sting operation in which the men were invited to come to an area home to give a quote on repair work. When they arrived, detectives checked the databases of both the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Insurance Fraud. The databases were checked to see if the workers were registered, licensed or properly insured to do the work for which they were placing bids.

The Sheriff made a statement that unlicensed contractors in the area are diverting work from legitimate contracting companies that have followed all of the licensing and insurance regulations required by the state. In addition, there is concern that consumers who hire unlicensed contractors could be harmed if the work is not up to par. It is alleged that one of the men who was recently arrested has an extensive criminal record and another has been ticketed for various code violations.

Each of these seven men will have the chance to present a response to these charges before a Florida court of law. Their defense approaches may differ, but all share a desire to avoid a conviction in the matter. A first violation could result in a simple citation, but individuals who continue to offer contracting services without the proper licensing and are accused of a crime could face misdemeanor or felony charges.

Source: mysuncoast.com, "Seven people arrested in Sarasota unlicensed contractor sting", Sept. 10, 2015

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