‘Exterminator’ out of business, in jail after years of allegedly spraying poison illegally

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – 65-year-old Joe Mendoza did not have a pest control license, but he had plenty of business.

The Thonotosassa man told state investigators he had 10 steady customers a week and was given business leads from a local realtor for a solid stream of income.

But even though the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) knew what he was doing, and fined Mendoza $19,000 for working without a license, he didn’t pay a penny and kept spraying.

Until this week.

Mendoza is now charged with three felonies involving fraud over $50,000 and forgery and three misdemeanor charges of unlawful advertisement for pest control services. He is being held in Hillsborough County Jail on $20,000 bail.   

The arrest on Thursday follows a number of reports by 8 On Your Side that detailed recent complaints.

Noah Garcia said Mendoza treated his mother’s Tampa home for termites in 2018, but the bugs came back. At the time, an FDACS agent said the state had been looking for Mendoza “for quite a while,” according to Garcia.

Mendoza also signed off on a Wood Destroying Organism (WDO) report for an Osborne Street home in Tampa, checking the box that indicated, “no visible signs” of bugs.

Jonah Huggins believed the document and moved his family into the split-level. 

“After a couple days termites just swarmed from everywhere,” Huggins said. 

Huggins later discovered relatively obvious damage in several areas of the house.

According to the WDO report that Mendoza signed for the split-level, the seller’s realtor Laura Keyes requested the inspection.

Huggins later filed a lawsuit against Keyes, her broker Dalton Wade Inc. and the home seller Darlene Allen, alleging negligence, fraudulent nondisclosure, and negligent misrepresentation. Huggins, an Army veteran, is asking the court for rescission of the purchase and sales contract to force the defendants to buy back the property.  

A WDO report conducted on the home in January by a licensed exterminator in connection with a previous purchase and sales agreement indicated there was termite damage. That deal fell through, prompting Allen to put the house back on the market. 

None of the defendants have responded to requests for comment.

Mendoza said “no comment” to several questions after a brief exchange with 8 On Your Side.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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