Hillsborough County

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
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