The Construction Fraud Unit of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office were successful in implementing Operation Bring Down the House which netted a total of 15 arrests.
The operation specifically targeted contractors who are conducting businesses without their proper licenses. Sheriff Chad Chronister spoke at a news conference following the arrests, and he sent a clear message to other contractors in the area attempting to conduct unlawful business. He stated that his department will continue to aggressively target these groups until they “stop preying” on his community.
As the operation began, agents posed as potential customers and convinced the contractors to meet with them. The agents used various online websites like Facebook, Yelp and Craig’s List to inquire about the services. Police reports indicate that most of the suspects offered a cheaper bid on certain work, and they told agents they could cut costs by not pulling the appropriate permits. Once the contractor’s arrived, the undercover detectives began to inquire about their licenses. Those unable to provide definitive proof of their licenses were immediately put into handcuffs and detained.
They were charged with contracting without a license. This crime is considered a misdemeanor for first-offenders and a felony for second-time offenders. Two of the suspects who were arrested have been implicated in past stings: William Moore and Donald E. Tucker. The two men had conducted unlawful business under the company names ‘Rent A Handyman’ and ‘Rent A Husband.’ Twelve additional individuals were arrested as first-time offenders. Sheriff Chronister confirmed that additional charges are still pending, so at least five more arrests are imminent.