On June 28, 2017, PCSO Sergeant Chris Katsoulis was off-duty and driving through Winter Haven when he spotted what appeared to be two men performing possible illegal driveway sealing at a home on Cypress Gardens Blvd.
In the past, PCSO has arrested suspects for approaching homeowners unsolicited and offering to pour asphalt and/or sealant onto their driveways in exchange for cash. Once the work is done, the suspects leave, and the shoddy work is discovered soon after. The suspects who have been arrested in scams like this in the past typically aren’t licensed to work in the state of Florida, and do not carry workman’s comp insurance.
Sgt. Katsoulis contacted the Bureau of Special Investigations to respond, and they confirmed that the two men – a father and son from Davenport – were performing unsolicited work without a license or proof of workman’s comp insurance.
“Our deputies are never truly ‘off-duty’ — they remain vigilant and always alert. Given the proclivity for suspects to prey on homeowners, whether through a distraction burglary or a paving scam, it is our mission to educate the public, and prevent crimes like these from occurring. If you suspect you have been a victim of this father-and-son duo of disaster, please call us immediately and report it, at 863-298-6200.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff
The following is an excerpt from their affidavits, and is self-explanatory:
ON 06/28/2017 PCSO BUREAU OF SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS DETECTIVES WERE ADVISED OF POSSIBLE SUBJECT(S) PERFORMING HOME SOLICITATION OF DRIVEWAY SEALING WITHOUT A PERMIT AT 2407 CYPRESS GARDENS BLVD. IN WINTER HAVEN. DETECTIVES RESPONDED TO THE SCENE AND OBSERVED SUSPECT LARRY NICHOLAS W/M DOB: 08/10/1971 AND HIS SON AND CO-DEFENDANT LAWRENCE NICHOLAS W/M DOB: 10/27/1984 PERFORMING DRIVEWAY SEALING WORK AT THE RESIDENCE LOCATED ON CYPRESS GARDENS BLVD.
DETECTIVES MADE CONTACT WITH BOTH HOMEOWNERS, WHO ADVISED THAT THEY WERE DOING YARD WORK IN THEIR FRONT YARD WHEN BOTH SUSPECTS APPROACHED THEM DRIVING THEIR 2015 CHEVY TRUCK PULLING A HOMEMADE TRAILER CONTAINING A 500-GALLON TANK OF ASPHALT SEALANT.
BOTH SUSPECTS SOLICITED THE HOMEOWNERS TO PERFORM DRIVEWAY SEALANT WORK IN EXCHANGE FOR $1300.00 CASH. BOTH HOMEOWNERS WERE STARTLED AND RELUCTANTLY AGREED TO ALLOW BOTH SUSPECTS TO PERFORM THIS UNSOLICITED WORK ON THEIR PROPERTY.
THE VICTIMS BEGAN TO SECOND-GUESS THEIR DECISION ONCE THE SUSPECTS BEGAN WORK, AND ASKED THE SUSPECTS IF THEY WERE LICENSED OR INSURED – BOTH SUSPECTS ADVISED THE HOMEOWNERS THEY WERE NOT.
DETECTIVES MADE CONTACT WITH SUSPECT LAWRENCE NICHOLAS (son) AND HE ADVISED ME THAT HE WAS DRIVING THE TRUCK WHEN HE AND CO-DEFENDANT LARRY NICHOLAS OBSERVED THE HOMEOWNERS ON CYPRESS GARDENS BLVD WORKING IN THEIR FRONT YARD, SO HE AND THE CO-DEFENDANT PULLED ONTO THE HOMEOWNERS’ PROPERTY AND THEY BOTH SOLICITED THE HOMEOWNERS TO PERFORM DRIVEWAY ASPHALT SEALANT WORK IN EXCHANGE FOR $1300.00 IN US CURRENCY.
LAWRENCE FURTHER STATED THAT HE AND THE CO-DEFENDANT DO NOT HAVE A HOME SOLICITATION PERMIT IN FLORIDA AND HAVE NEVER OBTAINED ONE. LAWRENCE FURTHER STATED THAT HE AND THE CO-DEFENDANT HAVE NEVER OBTAINED ANY FORM OF OCCUPATIONAL LICENSE OR BUSINESS TAX RECEIPT IN FLORIDA TO CONDUCT BUSINESS AND ALSO NEVER OBTAINED ANY FORM OF WORKERS COMP INSURANCE IN FLORIDA OR ANY OTHER STATE IN WHICH THEY CONDUCT UNSOLICITED ASPHALT SEALANT WORK.
LAWRENCE THEN STATED HE AND THE CO-DEFENDANT HAVE RECENTLY ALSO SOLICITED AND PERFORMED OTHER CONSTRUCTION WORK AT RANDOM HOMES WITHIN POLK COUNTY BUT DID NOT KNOW THE ADDRESSES OF THOSE UNKNOWN VICTIMS.
DETECTIVES PLACED LAWRENCE UNDER ARREST FOR THE ABOVE CHARGES AND LOCATED $1364.00 IN US CURRENCY IN HIS RIGHT FRONT POCKET.
DETECTIVES MADE CONTACT WITH SUSPECT LARRY NICHOLAS W/M DOB: 08/10/1971 (father). POST-MIRANDA LARRY SPONTANEOUSLY STATED HE WAS NOT A ROMANIAN GYPSY AND DIDN’T PUT A GUN TO THE HOMEOWNERS’ HEADS. LARRY THEN STATED THAT HE AND CO-DEFENDANT LAWRENCE NICHOLAS, WHO HE CLAIMED TO BE HIS SON, SAW THE HOMEOWNERS WORKING IN THEIR FRONT YARD AND PULLED ONTO TO THEIR PROPERTY AND KNOWINGLY AND INTENTIONALLY SOLICITED BOTH HOMEOWNERS TO PERFORM DRIVEWAY ASPHALT SEALANT WORK IN EXCHANGE FOR $1300.00 IN US CURRENCY.
LARRY STATED THE HOMEOWNERS AGREED AND HE AND THE CO-DEFENDANT BEGAN PERFORMING THIS UNSOLICITED WORK. LARRY FURTHER STATED THAT HE DOES NOT POSSESS ANY FORM OF AN OCCUPATIONAL LICENSE OR BUSINESS TAX RECEIPT TO CONDUCT BUSINESS IN POLK COUNTY, FLORIDA.
LARRY ALSO STATED THAT HE OWNS HIS OWN CONSTRUCTION COMPANY CALLED NICHOLAS CONTRACTING BUT NEVER OBTAINED ANY FORM OF LIABILITY OR WORKERS COMPENSATION INSURANCE IN FLORIDA OR ANY OTHER STATE AND DOES NOT CLAIM ANY OF HIS EARNINGS FROM THE NUMEROUS ASPHALT SEALANT JOBS HE PERFORMS ILLEGALLY THROUGHOUT FLORIDA AND THE UNITED STATES.
LARRY AND CO-DEFENDANT LAWRENCE NICHOLAS BOTH KNOWINGLY AND INTENTIONALLY VIOLATED FSS 440.105(4)(A)(3) FAILURE TO SECURE WORKERS COMPENSATION IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA AND THAT IS A 1ST DEGREE FELONY.
LARRY AND HIS CO-DEFENDANT LAWRENCE NICHOLAS ALSO VIOLATED FSS. 501.055(2) HOME SOLICITATION W/O A PERMIT AND THAT IS A 3RD DEGREE FELONY BY SOLICITING BOTH HOME OWNERS TO PERFORM ILLEGAL ASPHALT SEALING WORK ON THEIR RESIDENCE WHEN THEY NEVER CONTACTED EITHER SUSPECT.
LARRY AND LAWRENCE WERE PLACED UNDER ARREST FOR BOTH CHARGES AND AGENT CARY FROM THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE FRAUD WAS NOTIFIED OF BOTH SUSPECTS’ ARRESTS AND WILL RESPONDING TO POLK COUNTY ON 06/29/2017 TO FILE ADDITIONAL FELONY CHARGES ON BOTH SUSPECT STEMMING FROM THIS INCIDENT AND OTHER INCIDENTS WITHIN POLK COUNTY, FLORIDA.
Both were booked into the Polk County Jail for the aforementioned charges, and are being held on no bond until a first appearance hearing at 1:00 p.m. today. The investigation is ongoing, and more charges are pending.