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Sinkhole repair contractor surrenders on warrant for fraud

SPRING HILL — Carl Click of sinkhole repair contractor Click's Construction surrendered to Hillsborough County authorities Wednesday on a warrant for organized fraud over $50,000.

Click, 50, is part of a larger investigation involving sinkhole repairs and fraudulent documents stemming from work done on an undisclosed number of homes in Hernando County, including that of Phyllis House.

"It's absolutely wonderful,'' House said of Click's arrest. "I'm so glad. He's an integral part of this whole thing.''

Keeping track of the cases has been a focal point for her life for well over a year. She knowingly bought a home in Lake in the Woods in 2009 that had a sinkhole problem, then hired Click's Construction to begin sinkhole repairs.

But, she said, no repairs were ever done. House could tell because none of the normal activities that she has seen at other sinkhole repair sites —heavy machinery being used, grout being poured into sinkholes — ever took place at her home.

House said she knows what to look for because she is in the business of buying and selling sinkhole-damaged homes.

The Click company's vice president, Lorie Contorno, was arrested late last year on a charge of organized fraud over $50,000, a first-degree felony. She received probation on that charge.

Her husband, Robert Contorno, was arrested in May and remains in the Hernando County Detention Center, charged with fraud to obtain property worth $50,000 or more.

House has blamed the Hernando County Building Department for signing off on work it should not have approved and she said her battle continues on that front. She also continues to follow the developments in the Click and Contorno cases.

Her daughter also did business with Click's Construction on her home in the Wellington at Seven Hills. Lorie Contorno signed off on the work on House's daughter's home as a licensed engineer, although she has no engineer's license.

House said authorities told her the case is ongoing and that more arrests may follow. Hernando sheriff's officials declined to comment.

Meanwhile, House continues to live in the unrepaired sinkhole house at Lake in the Woods, which continues to emit loud cracking and popping noises.

"It is deafening. It is horrible. I just can't live here,'' House said. She said she had bought a new house and plans to move soon.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

Sinkhole repair contractor surrenders on warrant for fraud 08/24/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 8:10pm]
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