Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office arrests four in unlicensed contracting sting

Four arrested in unlicensed contractor sting.
Four arrested in unlicensed contractor sting.(SCSO)
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 1:13 PM EST
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office arrested four people in the aftermath of Operation Recover, an undercover initiative to protect citizens from unlicensed contractors in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

After the devastating property damage caused by the category 4 storm, the sheriff’s office planned an investigative effort to identify and arrest individuals engaging in the unlawful practice of contracting without a license and related crimes.

When contractors conduct work without appropriate licensing, homeowners can be held liable and face financial and physical risk.

The sheriff’s office coordinated efforts with the Sarasota County Building Department, Florida Department of Financial Services, and Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Detectives then contacted individuals to request home repair services that require a license. When workers would show up at the residence, the DBPR database was checked to determine if the individuals were licensed contractors and had the required worker’s compensation coverage or exemption to perform the proposed work.

During the two-day operation, four people were arrested, resulting in 15 total felony charges and three misdemeanor charges. One defendant, James Taylor, Jr., of Sarasota, provided undercover personnel with an estimate to replace the screen enclosure and roofing on the lanai for $3,000.

This is fourth time detectives are aware of Taylor offering unlicensed contractual services. Based on reports filed earlier this year, Taylor offered services in November 2021 and twice in February 2022, to three separate victims. At the time of his arrest, Taylor was charged with three counts of Unlicensed Contracting and three counts of Workers Compensation Fraud. Additional charges are pending.

Three others were also arrested during the two-day operation including:

  • Theodore Gavales, DOB 04/06/67, of 6142 Carlton Ave., Sarasota, charged with Unlicensed Contracting During a State of Emergency, Unregistered Electrical Contracting During a State of Emergency, and Workers Compensation Fraud.
  • Kenton Feydt, DOB 01/17/61, of 381 Jacaranda Circle, Venice, charged with Unlicensed Contracting During a State of Emergency, Unregistered Electrical Contracting During a State of Emergency, and Workers Compensation Fraud.
  • Vitali Petrov, DOB 08/08/74, of 12126 Chancellor Blvd., North Port, is charged with Unlicensed Contracting During a State of Emergency, Impersonating a Contractor During a State of Emergency, Workers Compensation Fraud, and Probation Violation.

To report someone you suspect is acting as an unlicensed contractor or performing work without a permit, call 941.861.5000. For more information visit https://www.scgov.net/government/planning-and-development-services/building.