Unlicensed Contracting Crimes in Pasco County

Update: The Pasco Sheriff’s Office just conducted another elaborate sting operation targeting crimes for “unlicensed contracting” or “failure to carry workers compensation.” The most recent sting operation was conducted between September 1-17, 2020. During the sting operation, at least 27 people were charged with the crime of unlicensed contracting or failure to maintain workers’ compensation insurance.

According to Detective Gerard Lipinski with the Economic Crimes Unit – Contractor Fraud at the Pasco Sheriff’s Office, this was a joint Unlicensed Contractor sting operation with the Pasco Sheriff’s Office and Department of Financial Services. Some suspects were charged with Contracting without a License-Misdemeanor and released from the sting location with a notice to appear.

Then the law enforcement officer with the Department of Financial Services referred the felony charge of Fail to Secure Worker’s Comp Insurance to the State Attorney’s Office (SAO) in Pasco County, FL. In many of these cases, the SAO filed the felony which then caused a felony arrest warrant to be issued.

In these cases, a detective with the Department of Financial Services, Fraud Department, Tampa Office, issued a memorandum regarding investigative/restitution costs letter dated March 29, 2021, that claimed the following “costs of investigation” requested pursuant to F.S. 938.27 as itemized below: Investigator’s Time: 12.66 hours @ $28.32 per hour = 358.53 and Supervisor Time: 3.61 hours @ 34.82 = 125.35 for a total of $483.88.

In Pasco County, law enforcement officers conduct sting operations into unlicensed or uninsured contracting during joint ventures between the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO), the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), and the Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS).

Crimes of unlicensed contracting involve allegations of not being duly registered or certified by the Florida Construction Industry License or the Pasco County Construction Licensing Board. The most common charges include:

  • failure to secure worker’s compensation insurance under Section 440.105(4)(A)(3);
  • unlicensed contracting (public order crimes engage contracting business without a license) in violation of Section 489.127(1)(f);
  • contracting without a license (electrical) under Section 489.531(1)(B); and
  • contracting without a license (plumbing) under Section 489.127(1)(F).

The sting operations are often conducted at residential and commercial properties throughout Pasco County. After the arrest, the case is prosecuted in state court at the courthouse in New Port Richey or Dade City, FL.

Many of these cases involve an entrapment defense because the officers are manufacturing crimes by convincing individuals to do things they would not normally do at a time when they are not predisposed to commit that kind of crime. If there is any reasonable doubt about whether entrapment occurred, then the person is NOT GUILTY of the crime.

The undercover officers in the sting operations often contact people offering handyman or home improvement services online. Then an invitation is sent to various suspects to the residential or commercial property to contract for the installation of a water heater, recessed lighting, exterior door, roofing, plumbing, and/or air conditioning system.

The undercover detectives then pose as the homeowner or business owner seeking a verbal quote to complete a construction project, plumbing work, or electrical alterations down to the ground.

Attorney for Unlicensed Contracting Charges in Pasco County, FL

If you were accused of failing to secure worker’s comp insurance or contracting without a license for a construction project, plumbing work, or electrical alterations, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm.

Our main office is in Tampa, FL. Our second office is located in New Port Richey in Pasco County, across from the courthouse at the West Pasco Judicial Center.

Officers involved in these sting operations record audio and video. We often find that the allegations in the police report do not match up with what occurred on the surveillance video. Our criminal defense attorneys are experienced in asserting the entrapment defense at trial.

Contact us for a free consultation either over the phone or in the office.

Call 813-250-0500.

Construction Trades Requiring a State License in Florida

In Florida, the following construction trades require a state license:

  • Air-Conditioning
  • Building Contractor
  • Electrician Contractor
  • General Contractor
  • Home Inspection
  • Mold-Related
  • Plumber
  • Pool/Spa
  • Residential
  • Roofer
  • Sheet Metal
  • Services Solar

In Florida, the following construction trades do NOT require a state license:

  • Cabinet Installation
  • Carpentry
  • Carpet Cleaning
  • Cleaning Swimming Pools
  • Drywall/Sheetrock
  • Flooring
  • Installing Above-Ground Pools
  • Masonry
  • Painting
  • Paving
  • Tree Trimming and Removal
  • Installing Insulation

The Pasco County Board of County Commissioners and the Pasco Sheriff’s Office created the Unlicensed Contractor / Construction Fraud Unit in September of 2014. Officials that conduct these investigations include the Pasco County Project Manager, the Pasco County Code Enforcement Officer, the Pasco County Building Inspector, and a Pasco Sheriff Detective.

Shortly after the unit was formed, it began conducting sting operations and making arrests. In 2016, a second Pasco Sheriff Detective was added to the unit and the Code Enforcement Officer and the Project Manager left the unit. Today, the contracting license specialist in Pasco County, FL, that handles construction investigation is Debbie Jadick at 727-847-8009 Ext. 8411.

Additional Resources

Unlicensed Contracting in Pasco County – Visit the website for the Pasco County Government to learn more about Unlicensed Contracting Investigations in Pasco County. Find the most common problems associated with using an unlicensed contractor including poor qualifications, possible criminal background, no coverage under homeowner’s policy, and noncompliance with building codes. Learn why most construction projects in Pasco County, even small ones, require permits and inspections.

Verify a Florida Licensed Contractor – Visit the website of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation to verify that a contractor is licensed in the state of Florida. Find out why you should ask your contractor for a license number and verify the license.

Hire Only Licensed in Florida Contractors (PDF) – Find a PDF explaining the reasons to hire only licensed contractors in Pasco County, FL. The link opens in a new window.

Unlicensed Contractor in Pasco County – This PDF explains why been an unlicensed contractor in Pasco County is illegal under Florida law. Find out how to report unlicensed activities through the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office or the Pasco County Building Department located at 8731 Citizens Drive, Suite 230, in New Port Richey, FL 34654.

This article was last updated on Thursday, September 9, 2021.