Undercover Operation

Who:          
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
Investigative Operations Bureau
- Economic Crimes Unit
Patrol Operations Bureau
- Community Policing Unit

Florida Department of Financial Services

State Attorney Sixth Judicial Court

What:                  
Detectives assigned to the Economic Crimes Unit, along with various other Sheriff’s Office components, and other state and county agencies worked collaboratively in an undercover sting to charge and arrest unlicensed contractors working in Pinellas County.

When:
The operation began on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 and ended on Friday, October 11, 2019.

Where:       
The undercover sting operation was conducted at a vacant residence located in Belleair Bluffs.

Why/How:
Detectives assigned to the Economic Crimes Unit along with the Florida Department of Financial Services, and the State Attorney Sixth Judicial Court worked collaboratively to charge and arrest unlicensed contractors working in Pinellas County.

Detectives arrested 17 suspects with 38 criminal charges. These charges include unlicensed specialty contracting violations, workers compensation fraud, and various other criminal charges unrelated to unlicensed contracting.

The undercover operation was conducted at a vacant residence located in Belleair Bluffs, and began on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 and ended on Friday, October 11, 2019. During this operation, undercover detectives were solicited by unlicensed specialty contracting suspects who offered to perform illegal unlicensed contracting work at the residence.

Detectives say these unlicensed contractors were found advertising on websites to include Facebook, Craigslist, Next Door, and various other social media platforms. The suspects came to the residence and met with undercover detectives while offering to do a variety of work that included electrical, plumbing, concrete work, painting, drywall, and tile work.

All of these suspects agreed to engage in this illegal contracting work without a license and without pulling a permit.

The results of this operation reinforces the fact that unlicensed contracting is still an ongoing problem in Pinellas County. 

A total of 188 suspects have been arrested with over 404 criminal charges since the inception of the first undercover operation on August 7, 2017. The total monetary amount quoted by these suspects has been over $880,000.00.

On July 1, 2018, a law was passed that eliminated the existing licensing board in Pinellas County and turned the responsibility over to Pinellas County Government. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate criminal violations and work with Pinellas County Government to help protect citizens being exploited by those engaged in unlicensed contracting. 

Citizens in Pinellas County can search for licensed contractors or report unlicensed construction activity by visiting the PCCLB website here: http://www.pcclb.com/ . Citizens can also report violations of unlicensed contracting by contacting the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office at (727) 582-6200.

Posted by Jessica Mackesy Friday, October 11, 2019 4:49:00 PM Categories: General News

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