Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Carmel on the Case: Unlicensed Contractor
Tonight an unlicensed contractor is on an unusual double probation after admitting to crimes in both Broward and Miami-Dade. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
WSVN -- Alejandro Rodriguez who uses the first name of Alex didn't want to discuss his business dealings with me. He had been in a Miami-Dade courtroom to admit he is a criminal and it is not the first time.
Judge Beth Bloom: "Mr. Rodriguez is ready to be sentenced at this time. Sir, if you'll raise your right hand, the court will place you under oath."
Rodriquez does not have a contractor's license, but it didn't stop him from selling homeowners outdoor kitchens. Rodriguez's victims were in court. The two homeowners paid thousands for work that was never finished and permits that were never pulled.
For decades, unlicensed contractors have caused big financial losses and lots of misery for homeowners and more often than not, the bad guys get away with it but not always.
Warren Eth: "We got restitution for the victims in the full amount over $4,000 and over $18,000 in another that were paid in full."
In return, Rodriguez got probation after admitting his guilt in connection with charges of contracting without a license and grand theft.
Judge Beth Bloom: "This is a third degree felony, carries with it a maximum penalty of five years in state prison. Do you understand that sir?"
But Rodriguez was already on felony probation for grand theft in Broward County. He took $5,000 for a job in Lighthouse Point and did no work, but instead of being locked up for violating probation on the Miami-Dade cases, he got a second probation.
It's unusual, but because the Miami-Dade crimes took place before the Broward probate, he caught a break.
Warren Eth: "You can't violate your probation for something you did before being placed on probation."
But if he breaks the law now, Rodriguez faces the prospect of serious prison time.
Carmel Cafiero: "Mr. Rodriguez, where are you going....?"
After court, rather than talk, Rodriquez forcefully threw a swinging door back at me and headed down the stairs.
Carmel Cafiero: "That was definitely not cool.
Attorney: "I apologize."
His attorney apologized for him.
Carmel Cafiero: "Unlicensed contractors often lie about their status or use someone else's license number. So homeowners have to do their homework, but there's also a temptation to hire an unlicensed person on purpose because they offer to do jobs on the cheap. Do that and know if you get taken, there's next to no help to be had."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Contractor License Search:
Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation
Miami-Dade County Building and Neighborhood Compliance
Phone: 786-315-2880 OR 311
Broward County Permitting, Licensing and Consumer Protection