Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Public safety

Sting targets unlicensed, uninsured contractors in Zephyrhills

ZEPHYRHILLS — A two-day undercover sting targeting unlicensed and uninsured contractors by the Pasco County Sheriff's Office led to three arrests and one pending arrest.

The operation took place May 10 and 11, with detectives posing as homeowners at a single-family residence in Zephyrhills, the Sheriff's Office said.

Before the operation, detectives scheduled appointments with 16 contractors through sites such as Facebook, Craigslist, Angie's List, Thumbtack and Home Advisor, all of them unlicensed, a Sheriff's Office news release said. All 16 advertised themselves as "handymen" who could complete remodeling services or perform other services requiring a contractor's license and workers' compensation insurance coverage.

Of that pool, four showed up at the Zephyrhills residence and provided a quote for installing an attached patio that required electrical work, air conditioning, walls and a roof.

Cory Martin, 28; Christopher Clark, 35, and Richard Beckwith, 56, were charged with contracting without a license and failure to secure workers' compensation, according to their arrest reports. Martin was also arrested on a charge possession of controlled substance and paraphernalia found in his car after officers searched his impounded vehicle.

A fourth contractor did not provide a quote during the operation, but later sent one via email. The Sheriff's Office said he would be arrested as soon as possible.

Pasco County Building Department, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Florida Department of Financial Services' Division of Workers' Compensation assisted the Sheriff's Office's with the investigation.

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