Crime

Homeowners say they paid contractor for work he didn’t do. Now he’s facing charges.

Francisco Ruiz
Francisco Ruiz

The Monroe County state attorney’s office charged a Key Largo man with two counts of operating a contracting business without a license after investigators say he bilked two clients out of thousands of dollars and never completed the work for which he was hired.

State attorney’s office investigators arrested Francisco Thomas Ruiz, 49, on a warrant Wednesday. He was released on $22,000 bond Thursday. He could not be reached for comment.

Larry Kahn, spokesman for the state attorney’s office, said both victims were Tavernier homeowners who paid Ruiz to install fences in their yard.

The first homeowner paid him $6,000 on June 16 and another $700 on June 22. Ruiz drilled holes for fence posts the next day, but “that was the last work Ruiz completed on the project,” Investigator Roy Bogue said in his report. In the meantime, no permits were pulled and no materials were delivered to the house, Kahn said.

After several text messages back and forth with the homeowner, Ruiz agreed to return the money. He sent a check for $6,700, which bounced on July 23.

The other homeowner wrote Ruiz a check for $4,100 on June 16 and another a few days later for $2,500. On July 3, Ruiz’s workers did some prep work at the house, and the homeowner cut another check for $175, Kahn said. Then, the homeowner paid Ruiz $613.81 on July 18 for a dumpster to be delivered on the property.

A worker took down some of the old fencing on July 28, and on Aug. 15 some new material was delivered to the property.

“The next day, the material was moved to the backyard, and that was the last of the work completed,” Kahn said.

As with the other homeowner, texts went back and forth. Ruiz promised the person he’d send a check for $3,000, but he never did, Kahn said.

To make matters worse, the dumpster company sent the homeowner a notice of lien because the check Ruiz sent to the company bounced, Kahn said.

Bogue said Ruiz is not licensed in Monroe County, and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation provided a letter of non-licensure through the agency’s Division of Regulation.

  Comments