PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a 43-year-old man for allegedly running a chop shop out of his boat repair business in Hudson.
Scott Sands, the owner of Liberty Entrepreneurs, Inc., a boat repair and salvage company, is accused of stealing boat parts and selling them online. He is also accused of using both car parts and parts from his customers’ boats to fix other boats he was trying to repair.
“Those car parts could start boat fires,” said Sheriff Chris Nocco. “He could be endangering the lives of those individuals and their families being on the water, going full speed, thinking that their boat is safe.”
Nocco said several victims and some of Sands’ former employees were part of a Facebook group exposing his alleged misdeeds. They believe he defrauded more than 60 people while in Pasco County.
Sands previously served time for operating a chop shop in Pinellas County. Records show he was arrested multiple times on charges such as operating a chop shop, dealing in stolen property and title certificate fraud.
“This person’s information was out there,” Nocco said, advising boat owners to do their research before falling victim to such a scheme.
According to detectives, Sands would tell his customers their boats would be repaired within three weeks, but many had to wait months to get them back.
Investigators say if he became angry with a customer, he would remove expensive parts from their boats and sell them online. Those who were late to pick up their boats soon learned their vessel had been impounded. Detectives say Sands would charge them storage fees until they could no longer afford to get their boat. Then he would place a lien on the vessel and dump it.
Detectives seized a number of boats at Sands’ property and are holding them as evidence to determine whether the engines were stolen. The boats will be released to their rightful owners once they can make that determination, authorities said.
Sands spoke with 8 On Your Side Monday and denied the allegations.
“I will not say that there has not been any mistakes made. I can’t make any comment on the beginning charges, but I can tell you this, we are not a chop shop. We did not defraud the public,” said Sands. “Getting arrested and thrown in a cop car before you get a chance to explain yourself and watching affidavits getting written up about somebody before they even see proof is a major issue.”
“He told me it would be a three-day turnaround. There never was a three-day turnaround. I called him everyday,” said Edison Reed, who showed up at the business Monday looking for answers. Reed said he called Scott in January looking for a motor for his truck and paid him more than $2,000 for the job. He said he was not able to get his truck back until police executed a search warrant and seized it. “Now my truck is not even working. The motor that he put in there is not even the motor I even bought. This guy really did a lot of people wrong,” said Reed.
Sands faces charges of scheme to defraud, failure to secure worker’s compensation insurance coverage, grand theft, dealing in stolen property, felon in possession of a firearm, owner/operate/conduct chop shop and possession of a vessel with altered hull.
Reed said he’s relieved that Sands was arrested but he worries he will never get his money back. “That’s where he need to be at. Wish they could get my money back but I know I got to go other ways with that, but you can’t get away with ripping people off that’s not cool,” said Reed.
As of Monday Sands was out on bond.
Anyone who believes they may be a victim of Sands’ is asked to call detectives at 1-800-706-2488 and refer to case number 20022049.