Wednesday, November 9, 2005
Carmel on the Case: Unlicensed Contractors
For most of us, the power's back and the gas lines are gone. Now, we're having to clean up from what Wilma left behind. But if you're hiring a roofer, be warned - there are a lot of imposters out there. Carmel Cafiero shows us what she found in just one day in tonight's Carmel on the Case.
WSVN--Toby Cline: "Habla Englase?"
Do you know who's working on your roof? Hire an unlicensed company and it could cost you - from shoddy work that has to be redone - to being held liable if a worker is injured. This crew claimed to be with a licensed roofing company.
Luis Valdez: "George."
But it would turn out the man in charge...48-year-old Luis Valdez is misleading Miami Dade Code Investigator Toby Cline.
Toby Cline: "And there's a guy here says - they're ripping off a roof on a ladies house and he says he works for you."
Cline contacted the company that allegedly hired the crew. At first, it indicated this was one of its jobs - despite the fact there was no permit.
Toby Cline: "What I'm going to do is give you today to go pull the permit."
Later cline would learn he had been given major misinformation. We'll show you what happened - but first:
Toby Cline: "Who's the owner?"
Seven News shadowed Cline as he checked projects for unlicensed activity.
Toby Cline: "You are?"
Jose Mayorga: "Si."
Toby Clince: "What's the name of your company?"
Jose Mayorga: "Uh Y-S-Y."
Jose Mayorga explained with the help of a translator that he sub contracted this roof job from another contractor. But Cline says that company had no right to sub out the job.
Toby Cline: "It's not a licensed roofing contractor corporation."
Toby Cline: "And what you're gonna have to do is dry this in and stop."
Once his crew made sure the roof wasn't leaking - Mayorga had to leave the job. That means the homeowner will have to find someone else to finish his roof. There are so many problems like this in South Florida - a task force is being formed. State and local building officials - plus police and prosecutors will soon be conducting sweeps to shut down unlicensed contractors.
Toby Cline: "This is his only warning. He's gonna get a five hundred dollar ticket for this."
Carmel Cafiero: "While the roofer on this job may not realize it - he's actually lucky. Despite the fact that's he's getting a ticket and he's being kicked off the job. The fact is contracting without a license is a felony charge under the current state of emergency. And he could have been arrested."
Toby Cline: "Well he's already ripping it off."
Meanwhile - Cline gets a call about the first job he checked. It turns out - the licensed company says this is not one of its jobs. And the homeowner shows Cline her contract. It is signed by Luis Valdez - who has no license at all. But all this comes after workers have stripped the roof of this house down to the rafters. Rolando Ortega says his parents have already paid 2 thousand-dollars for a 7 thousand-dollar job.
Rolando Ortega: "Cause it's a really big thing because the whole ceiling is down and if it starts raining you know."
Carmel Cafiero: "So you thought you were dealing with a licensed contractor?"
Rolando Ortega: "I did. My Mom didn't know - she found out right now."
Valdez had vanished by the time Cline got back to the house. It turns out he is on probation on a felony charge for driving without a license. The director of Miami Dade building code compliance says the family might pay the biggest price.
Herminio Gonzalez: "The building now probably is gonna be declared unsafe. This family is gonna have to find another place to stay because they used the wrong contractor."
Meanwhile - authorities are now out looking for Valdez - who could be charged with another felony - contracting without a license.
If you have a story for Carmel:
Call her in Dade at 305-627-CLUE
Or in Broward at 954-921-CLUE