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Tuesday, October 24 2017

An unlicensed contractor from Fort Myers, Fla., has been arrested after he was found to be conducting subpar roof repairs and operating without insurance in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said Oscar M. Palma was arrested this month by the Department of Financial Services’ Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team.

Palma was reported to authorities after allegedly making subpar roof repairs to an area apartment complex following Hurricane Irma. A statement from DFS said an investigation was then launched where fraud detectives found Palma was advertising himself as a licensed and insured contractor, but held no workers’ compensation coverage and was not licensed as a contractor.

“When contractors fail to secure workers’ compensation coverage, a myriad of risks are presented, and we are sending a message that taking short cuts will not be tolerated,” Patronis said. “If any of Palma’s workers were to get injured, the property owners, who are already going through high-stress and costly times dealing with Hurricane Irma damages, or the employee themselves are forced to pay out-of-pocket for medical expenses. Our efforts are focused on ensuring our residents, consumers and employees don’t fall victim to Irma twice, and these types of uninsured activities could cause just that.”

The Department’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Compliance received a tip Oct. 12, 2017, alleging unlicensed, uninsured and careless roof work was being performed by Palma’s company. Investigators visited one of Palma’s current work sites and issued a stop work order upon confirming Palma failed to secure workers’ compensation insurance and Palma’s confession to having no professional license.

He was arrested Oct. 13, 2017, and transported to Lee County Jail.

This case will be prosecuted by the Lee County Office of the State Attorney, 20th Judicial Circuit. If convicted, Palma could face up to five years in prison.

DFS’s anti-fraud strike team consists of three teams working in areas heavily impacted by Hurricane Irma including South Florida, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties; Southwest Florida, including Lee and Collier counties; and Central Florida, including Polk and Orange counties. To report suspected fraud, call the Department’s toll-free Fraud Tip Hotline at 1-800-378-0445.

Posted by: AT 02:04 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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2536 Northbrooke Plaza Drive; Naples, FL 34119
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