14 arrested in unlicensed contractor sting

Published On: Apr 29 2014 02:24:12 PM EDT
Updated On: Apr 29 2014 08:57:16 PM EDT

More than a dozen men arrested on charges they posed as contractors and operated without required licenses. The sheriff's office conducted an undercover crackdown, called "Operation Piece of Cake." Channel 4's Hailey Winslow tells us how deputies made these arrests.

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -

Fourteen people were arrested in an unlicensed contractor sting St. Johns County.

The suspects are accused of falsely identifying themselves as contractors, and a 15th suspect was charged with possession of cannabis.

The arrests were the result of a joint operation between the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators said the two-week operation called Piece of Cake targeted unlicensed contractors working and soliciting business in the county.

The suspects, including electricians, roofers and plumbers, were provided by the St. Johns County Building Department and the DBPR through complaints of unsatisfactory and unlicensed work, and various media advertisements soliciting work.

The operation began last week at an unidentified home off State Road 16 that needed various repairs, investigators said. They said appointments were scheduled with the suspects who then met with undercover operatives at the home and were asked to provide an estimate for the repairs.

The 14 suspects returned bids by the end of last week and were given appointments to begin the projects this week, investigators said. They said when the suspects showed up for work Monday and Tuesday, arrest teams inside the home secured and arrested them.

Those arrested were Thomas Haller, 52; Andrew Atwell, 53; Christopher Davis, 45; Stephen Brown, 47; Danny Smith, 58; William Phillips Jr., 58; Daniel Underwood, 38; Clayton Acosta, 62; Gregory Gallarde, 53; Joshua Patterson, 39; Gordan Conrad, 53; Rickey Dalton, 51; Shannon Treadway, 43; and Roberto Soledad Jr., 22. Josue Soto, 24, was arrested on the drug charge.

According to the DBPR, unlicensed activity occurs when someone offers to perform or performs services that require a state license and the person does not hold the required license. Florida law sets specific rules and guidelines for obtaining professional licensure, and the people who have met these requirements are held to professional standards.

Consumers can verify professional licenses with the DBPR online at www.myfloridalicense.com, by calling 850-487-1395, or by downloading the free DBPR Mobile app through iTunes or the Google Play store.

Unlicensed activity is illegal and can result in misdemeanor or felony charges if an individual is convicted.

Floridians are asked to report any suspected unlicensed activity by email at ULA@dbpr.state.fl.us, or calling the unlicensed activity hotline at 866-532-1440.

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