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 May 1st, 2009  
Florida Dept. of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Drago and St. Lucie County Sheriff Mascara announce results of unlicensed contractor sting
A joint operation of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation resulted in four arrests of unlicensed contractors Thursday.

The sting, which recruited unlicensed contractors from the web site craigslist.com and from newspaper ads, sends a message that officials of the state and county will not tolerate unlicensed contractors.

“I am very pleased with the hard work of our department’s investigators in their partnership with the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office,” said DBPR Secretary Charles W. Drago.  “With so many advertising opportunities now available online, our investigators are turning to these sources to catch unlicensed contactors who harm consumers and divert business from licensed professionals.”

“St. Lucie County has had more than its share of unlicensed contractors taking advantage of people’s needs to have repairs and improvements made to their property,” said St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara. “In addition, we want people to know that they can’t use craigslist.com to advertise for contracting business if they are not licensed.”

In Thursday’s sting, four St. Lucie County deputies and two DBPR investigators from the agency’s West Palm Beach office invited unlicensed contractors to bid on a fictitious renovation job at a privately owned building.

When the unlicensed contractors arrived and made bids, the deputies arrested them for the misdemeanor charge of contracting without a license and booked them into the St. Lucie County jail. The DBPR investigators also gave the defendants $1,000 citations for violating state licensing laws, along with cease and desist notices, prohibiting them from soliciting business as unlicensed contractors.

One of those arrested, De Laun Fifield, 32, of Palm Bay, also faces several Indian River County arrest warrants for contracting without a license. Following his arrest in St. Lucie County, he was turned over to authorities in Indian River County.

Also arrested were: Donald Seaman, 55, of Jensen Beach; Victor Luis Pico, of Green Acres (north of Tampa); and Louis Sabater, 57, of 367 S.W. Lake Forest Way, Port St. Lucie.

Secretary Drago and Sheriff Mascra encourage the public to always check licenses before hiring a contractor by visiting MyFloridaLicense.com.  Unlicensed activity should be reported to the department via the Web site or by calling, toll-free, 1-866-532-1440. 

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