Undercover Sting Nets 39 Unlicensed Contractors, Deputies Say
The results of the sting reinforces the fact that unlicensed contracting is still an ongoing problem in Pinellas County, Pinellas deputies said.
DUNEDIN – An undercover sting operation run over the weekend in Dunedin led to the arrest of 39 unlicensed contractors on 79 criminal charges, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said.
Detectives also referred one suspect to the State Attorney’s Office for one additional criminal charge. The charges include unlicensed specialty contracting violations, workers compensation fraud, and various other criminal charges unrelated to unlicensed contracting.
The undercover sting, called “Operation Punch List,” was conducted at a vacant residence at 875 Sky Loch Drive in Dunedin. It began Saturday (Feb. 16) and ended Monday (Feb. 18). During this operation, undercover detectives were solicited by unlicensed specialty contracting suspects who offered to perform illegal unlicensed contracting work at the residence.
Detectives said 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, 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 weekend’s operation reinforces the fact that unlicensed contracting is still an ongoing problem in Pinellas County, deputies said.
“My message to people who are out there engaged in this activity is to do it the right way, do it the legal way, get licensed, and don’t rip people off,” Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said during a Monday press conference.
There has been a total of 152 suspects arrested and more than 330 criminal charges since the inception of the first undercover operation, “Operation Nailed” on August 7, 2017. The total monetary amount quoted by these suspects has been close to $700,000.
On July 1, 2018, a law was passed that eliminated the 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.
Pinellas residents can search for licensed contractors or report unlicensed construction activity by visiting the PCCLB website here: pcclb.com. Citizens can also report violations of unlicensed contracting by contacting the Pinellas sheriff at (727) 582-6200.
The press conference can be viewed at youtu.be.
Pinellas Sheriff | Crime | Arrests | Tampabay News
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