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Undercover Sting Leads to 10 Fraud Arrests in Manatee County

4/1/2016

Contact: Ashley Carr
(850) 413- 2842

Palmetto, Fla. – The Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF) today announced 10 arrests following a multi-agency undercover workers’ compensation sting in Manatee County. These 10 individuals advertised their ability to perform wide-ranging plumbing and electrical work without proper licenses or training, and without having workers’ compensation coverage to protect their employees in the event of an accident or injury.

During the two-day operation, DIF detectives, accompanied by logistical and tactical support from multiple agencies, established an undercover sting in an effort to stop this illegal practice. Detectives responded to public advertisements created by the defendants, requesting that they perform services at a specified location in Manatee County.

“This partnered operation serves as a reminder to all Floridians that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said CFO Jeff Atwater. “Consumers should ask questions, get all offers in writing and verify the credentials of every individual who may provide goods or services before any work begins.”

Those who were arrested include:

• Carmelo Montalvo
• Joseph V. Richard
• Mark W. Colvin
• Ernest J. LeBrecque
• Mitchell M. Torres
• John Goodman
• Rocki Fair II
• Scott H. Zimpel
• Brandon A. Jorquera
• Vadim Davydov
 
When individuals knowingly neglect the law, they create a liability risk for property owners by performing sub-par work and by potentially leaving property owners responsible to cover medical costs if an uncovered worker is hurt on their property.
Multiple agencies played a vital role in securing the sting’s successful outcome, including the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, Palmetto Police Department, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Compliance, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the Manatee County State Attorney’s Office and Manatee County Code Enforcement.

“We are proud to collaborate with such strong local and state agencies to proactively combat unlicensed activity and stop unlicensed individuals in their tracks,” DBPR Secretary Ken Lawson said. “Unlicensed activity threatens the livelihood of honest, hardworking professionals and can result in substantial physical or financial burdens to Florida consumers. That’s why it is crucial for consumers to always verify a contractor’s license with DBPR prior to hiring them for work on their homes or businesses.”

The 10 individuals arrested were booked into Manatee County Jail on charges of workers’ compensation fraud and unlicensed contracting, and if convicted, they can face up to 5 years in prison, more if found to be a repeat offender. These cases will be prosecuted by the Office of Manatee County State Attorney Ed Brodsky.
 
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Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS)
 
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation licenses and regulates contractors to provide various construction and electrical services in the state of Florida. Consumers can verify professional licenses with 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 app store. Unlicensed activity is against the law. Floridians should report any suspected unlicensed activity by emailing ULA@myfloridalicense.com, calling the Unlicensed Activity Hotline at 1-866-532-1440 or using the DBPR Mobile app.