TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The last time Joe Mendoza was cited for working as an exterminator without a license, records show he did not pay the fines and continued his illegal career.
Last year, about three years after he was fined for the first incident, Mendoza was arrested when he was caught a second time. He was charged with three felonies and three misdemeanors in connection with creating wood destroying organism (WDO) reports and acting as a licensed exterminator.
But after a plea deal in Hillsborough County, Mendoza pleaded guilty to four charges and was sentenced to 24 months probation, 50 hours of community service and told not to “perform any unlicensed work for pest control.”
The crimes were tied in part to a WDO report that stated there were no signs of termites in a Tampa home on East Osborne Street. The owner of the home came to 8 On Your Side when he was swarmed by termites after the sale closed.
A video recorded by a second Tampa homeowner in 2018 showed Mendoza spraying poison.
Documents from that Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) case alleged he used outside pesticides indoors but even though the state fined him $19,000 for working without a license. According to FDACS, Mendoza did not pay the fine.
After he was caught the first time, Mendoza told state investigators he had 10 steady customers a week and got business leads from a local realtor.
Laura Keyes was the realtor who requested the inspection report for the East Osborne Street home, according to the WDO document. She and others were sued by the homebuyer, but that case has since been dropped. Keyes denied she did anything wrong.
A WDO inspection conducted on the same 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 the owner to put the house back on the market.
Mendoza has not responded to requests for comment.