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16 small contractors arrested in Florida sting

©GCR, illustration by Denis Carrier
Police in Florida have arrested 16 men in a sting operation designed to detect contractors trading illegally.

The sting was carried out in Manatee County over three days in April.

It was organised by Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the Department of Financial Services, and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

In it, firms were asked if they were willing to work without a licence or workers’ compensation insurance coverage.

A statement by the sheriff’s office said the purpose of the operation was to “address unlicensed contractors … engaging in construction class work without the required workers’ compensation insurance exemptions”.

Altogether, 49 charges of failure to obtain workers’ compensation coverage and unlicensed contracting have been brought.

Jimmy Patronis, the state’s chief financial officer, said workers’ compensation fraud created an unfair advantage for dishonest businesses leaving employees “exposed and defenceless”.

“Be warned, if you try to cheat the system and your employees you will be caught and you will go to jail,” he said.

Rick Wells, the county’s sheriff, added: “Our detectives conduct these stings with the victims of unsafe construction practices and the poor workmanship of unlicensed contractors in mind. Unsuspecting customers are the ones who suffer the most due to Workers’ Compensation Fraud. Our residents deserve better.”

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