Eight Polk residents have been charged with acting as a contractor without a license during a three-day sting involving the Lakeland Police Department and three other agencies.

Here is an LPD news release on the arrests:

During a three-day operation in mid-April, a multi-agency undercover sting was conducted focusing in on unlicensed contractors. Those agencies that played a vital role in the successful operation include the Lakeland Police Department, State Attorney’s Office 10th Judicial Circuit, The Florida Department of Financial Services Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Compliance, and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Eight individuals advertised their ability to perform wide-ranging plumbing and electrical work without proper licenses or training. All but one had no worker’s compensation coverage to protect their employees in the event of an accident or injury.

The undercover sting operation was conducted in an effort to stop these illegal practices. Detectives responded to public advertisements, created by the defendants, requesting that they perform services at a specified location in Lakeland. The workers were invited to the home by an undercover detective posing as a homeowner in need of home repairs. Once they provided the undercover detective with a proposal for work that would require a contractor’s license in the state of Florida, they were in violation. A few highlights from the operation are:

  • Several of the defendants utilized web sites advertising their services and that they were insured.
  • One defendant admitted he was not allowed to do some of the work he agreed to complete.
  • Lettering on one of the subject’s van stated, “Licensed & Insured”.
  • One subject provided a fictitious business license number.
  • Business cards handed out stating, “Licensed & Insured”.
  • Some of the subjects had prior criminal charges for:

o   Aggravated Assault

o   Carrying Concealed Weapon

o   Lewd Lascivious Battery Child under 16 years of age

o   Sexual Battery

o   Felony Battery

“We must be vigilant and continue to crack down on those who are contracting work illegally and working without a license,” said Lakeland Police Chief Larry Giddens.“Unlicensed contractors place our citizens at risk and threaten the livelihood of our law-abiding contractors and their employees. “

Detectives worked with the State Attorney’s Office and throughout the investigation and later had capias issued for the below listed individuals. The below seven defendants were taken into custody between June 16th and 20th and they were all charged with, Engaging in a business as a contractor without a license (M1) andFail to secure workers’ compensation insurance coverage (F3).

  1. Justin Cortes, 48 yrs old – Polk City, FL.
  2. Greatlen Bozeman, 44 yrs old – Winter Haven, FL.
  3. Herbert Vanegas, 54 yrs old – Lakeland, FL.
  4. Henricus Van Der Linden, 56 yrs old – Winter Haven, FL.
  5. Stuart Rhodes, 67 yrs old – Lakeland, FL.
  6. Juan Carlos Diaz, 35 yrs old – Lakeland, FL.
  7. Raymond Figueroa-Garcia, 30 yrs old, Winter Haven, FL.

The below listed defendant, Raymond Perdue, had his worker’s compensation insurance, but did not have a contractor’s license. Charges were filed with the State Attorney’s Office for Engaging in a business as a contractor without a license (M1) and Perdue was issued a summons to appear in county court.

  1. Raymond Perdue, 45 yrs old, Lakeland, FL.

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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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