The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office was notified this week of concerns regarding HD Custom Homes, a business operating in Charlotte County. The Sheriff’s Office has received 25 reports in reference to the builder.
Cpl. Paul Guyton, Certified Fraud Examiner & Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist for the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office is examining HD Custom Homes, its officers and the company’s legal status to do business. Cpl. Guyton and his team are amassing contractual, financial and other specific documentation from those who contracted with HD Custom Homes and suffered consumer harm.
Florida State Statute provides specific laws for dealing with licensed contractors. Cpl. Guyton is currently advising complainants to begin the steps outlined below in case the documentation is required at a later date. CCSO encourages those who suffered losses with HD Custom Homes to follow the process as prescribed by Florida State Statute 489.126 which addresses “moneys received by contractors” as there are certain requirements that must be completed prior to charges being applicable against a contractor for theft.
The statute reads that the contractor has to fail to perform any work during any 60-day period. A certified letter (return receipt requested) needs to be sent to the contractor, at their address on the contract. Once either the receipt is returned, or the letter is not delivered/accepted, you must wait 30 days to allow them to respond.
The letter must contain specific language. Below is a copy of the statute, which covers what needs to be in the certified letter.
489.126 Moneys received by contractors.—
(1) For purposes of this section, the term “contractor” includes all definitions as set forth in s. 489.105(3), and any person performing or contracting or promising to perform work described therein, without regard to the licensure of the person.
(2) A contractor who receives, as initial payment, money totaling more than 10 percent of the contract price for repair, restoration, improvement, or construction to residential real property must:
(a) Apply for permits necessary to do work within 30 days after the date payment is made, except where the work does not require a permit under the applicable codes and ordinances, and
(b) Start the work within 90 days after the date all necessary permits for work, if any, are issued, unless the person who made the payment agreed, in writing, to a longer period to apply for the necessary permits or start the work or to longer periods for both.
(3) (a) A contractor who receives money for repair, restoration, addition, improvement, or construction of residential real property in excess of the value of the work performed shall not, with intent to defraud the owner, fail or refuse to perform any work for any 90-day period.
(b) Proof that a contractor received money for the repair, restoration, addition, improvement, or construction of residential real property and that the amount received exceeds the value of the work performed by the contractor and that:
1. The contractor failed to perform any of the work for which he or she contracted during any 60-day period;
2. The failure to perform any such work during the 60-day period was not related to the owner’s termination of the contract or a material breach of the contract by the owner; and
3. The contractor failed, for an additional 30-day period after the date of mailing of notification as specified in paragraph (c), to perform any work for which he or she contracted, gives rise to an inference that the money in excess of the value of the work performed was taken with the intent to defraud.
(c) Notification as contemplated in paragraph (b) consists of a certified letter, return receipt requested, mailed to the address of the contractor as listed in the written contracting agreement. The letter must indicate that the contractor has failed to perform any work for a 60-day period, that the failure to perform the work was not the result of the owner’s termination of the contract or a material breach of the contract by the owner, and that the contractor must recommence construction within 30 days after the date of mailing of the letter. If there is no address for the contractor listed in the written contracting agreement, or no written agreement exists, the letter must be mailed to the address of the contractor listed in the building permit application.
Documentation or communication regarding this topic can be sent to our Economic Crimes Unit by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. This does not apply to press inquiries, which should be directed to the PIO.
This blog will be updated as we have new information for release.
12/14/18 Update: Our Economic Crimes Unit currently has 39 complaints in reference to various issues with HD Custom Homes. ECU Detective Bordner is still in the process of contacting each complainant personally to discuss their individual report and review what documentation may be required. ECU Corporal Guyton is communicating with both the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and Charlotte County Officials to ensure that everyone has the information they require for their respective investigations.