Three men were arrested late last week on charges of contracting without a license.
The Pasco County Sheriff's Office set up a sting in an unoccupied, single-family house in Land O' Lakes to crack down on unlicensed building contractors.
The purpose of the operation, the press release said, is to protect consumers from the dangers of working with unlicensed individuals, which may result in personal or financial harm, and to protect properly licensed professionals from unafair competition from unlicensed individuals.
The operaton was a joint effort between the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and Economic Crimes Unit of the PCSO.
DBPR personnel located the unlicensed contractors through advertisements that offered state-regulated services. Deputies contacted them and set up a meeting for them to provide a bid on a residential air conditioning repair project.
Juan Lewis Acosta, 28, of 8131 Dedham Dr. in Port Richey; Wayne Robert Johns, 46, of 12823 Kellywood Cir. in Hudson; and Hector Daniel DeJesus, 29, of 6433 Illinois Ave. in New Port Richey were arrested on charges of contracting without a license, according to the arrest reports.
All three were contacted through Craiglist ads they placed. The ads lacked a license number, which according to Detective Chuck Troy of the Economic Crimes Unit, is required to be included on advertisements.
Acosta was also charged with "scheme to defraud" for giving conflicting statements about the repairs to deputies. He told the undercover detective that his AC unit had a pinhole and slow leak, and is suspected of loosening valves himself, according to his arrest report.
Records checks revealed all three suspects lack the required licenses to operate as building contractors.
In , deputies and the DBPR conducted a similar investigation.
The sting targeted unlicensed contractors who offered to install a residential hot water heater; 10 individuals were arrested at that time, according to the press release.
Acosta's charges were felonies because he is a repeat offender. Johns and DeJesus were charged with misdemeanors.
Separate from any findings from these charges in the court system, if any of the three are found to be operating without a license again, they will automatically be fined $2,500, per state statute.
You can verify licenses of contractors online at MyFloridaLicense.com or by calling 850-487-1395.