Police in North Port, Fla., have arrested six roofing contractors in an undercover operation following Hurricane Ian and are on the hunt for others.
In a Nov. 15 post on Twitter, the North Port Police Department said it identified nine individuals during its “Operation Con-Tractor.” Six of the individuals have been charged with felony unlicensed contracting related offenses, among others.
The six people arrested are Eduardo Montalvo Martinez, Steven Michael Dobrowski, Guillermo Zayas, Lee Edgar Freels, Cooper Kyle Marshall, and Myer Morris Stabinsky.
The remaining three identified individuals have warrants out for their arrests: Henris Eliazar Ponce Lopez, Chase S. Williamson, and Dennis Daniel Cardona Zeron.
NPPD continues to protect our residents from unlicensed contractors in the wake of Hurricane Ian. "Operation Con-Tractor" has identified 9 individuals during an undercover operation. All of the individuals are charged with felony unlicensed contracting related offenses and more. pic.twitter.com/lvsmr2titc— North Port Police (@NorthPortPolice) November 15, 2022
According to CBS-affiliated WINK-TV, detectives called the numbers advertised by contractors on roadside signs and community social media sites. The detectives claimed to have found several unlicensed contractors who were conducting unlawful roofing repairs.
Licensing enforcement has ramped up in Florida following Hurricane Ian. In October, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office arrested Terence Duque, owner of Duque Roofing in Rosenburg, Texas, for allegedly operating in Florida without proper licensing. Duque told investigators that he read Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis’ State of Emergency order regarding contractors and thought he was permitted to work in Florida.
The executive order allows for general, building or residential contractors certified in Florida to not subcontract roofing work, which is normally the case in Florida. The executive order expires Nov. 22.
Duque’s arrest was met with negative to mixed reactions from the public. Responding to a tweet from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation that depicted deputies arresting Duque, users bashed the department: “This is absurd. Like, you can just tell him he needs to be a licensed *Florida* roofer (wooow-wee!), but why arrest him? He's clearly not in the state with malice! This is crazy!”
Others defended the actions, tweeting: “Till you personally get ripped off by an unlicensed, uninsured scammer then scream victim when they half ass do the job and go mia. There's a reason we have these laws. To prevent issues.”