12 arrested for Hurricane Michael contracting scams

Posted at 2:10 PM, Nov 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-16 09:11:44-05

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) - Investigators say an undercover sting operation has led to the arrest of 12 people for scamming Hurricane Michael victims.

The Bay County Sheriff’s Office, along with the State Attorney’s Office, 14th Judicial Circuit, The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Department of Business and Professional Regulations, the Panama City Police Department, and the Lynn Haven Police Department, have conducted an undercover sting operation and made twelve arrests in Bay County.

Deputies say the agencies received complaints about of shoddy workmanship from roofing contractors as well as incidents of scamming Bay County residents involving contracting work. BCSO says one resident even complained his new roof leaked the first time it rained.

Due to the complaints, a special task force was created to target unlicensed contractors that were advertising in the county.

The task force, called Citizens United Fighting Fraud, or CUFF, conducted several sting operations, resulting in 12 arrests:

  • Victor Miguel Prado, age 54, of New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Jose Santoas Mejia-Brizuela, age 59, of New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Castro Osman Nahum Matute, age 29, of New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Gilberto Almaraz, age 50, of Houston, Texas
  • Alan Misael Gonzalez, age 32, of San Antonio, Texas
  • Julio Medina Torres, age 32, of Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Thomas Rodriguez, age 48, of Houston, Texas
  • Gustavo Lopez, age 24, of New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Javier Callejas, age 34 of New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Suazo Villatoro, age 34, or Arravi, Louisiana
  • Kevin Sauer, age 50, of Indiana
  • and Luis Espinoza, age 40, of Denhan Springs, Louisiana

All were charged with contracting without a license. Torres was additionally charged with possession of cocaine.

Deputies say CUFF has also obtained warrants on several people that left Bay County.

They have been identified as Eric Judson Naquin, Joseph Dipasquale, and Juan Pena Morales. All will be charged with contracting without a license. Naquin and Morales also face charges of grand theft.