The owner of a Houston-area roofing company is facing criminal charges for allegedly operating an unlicensed business in Florida after Hurricane Ian.
Terence Duque, 48, owner of Rosenberg-based Duque Roofing, was arrested in October. On July 7, he was charged with uncertified contracting business during the state of emergency, a felony, according to online court records in Charlotte County in southwest Florida. Duke was released from prison the same day and is scheduled to appear before a Florida judge on Nov. 18. 7. Court records show.
The announcement of Duke’s arrest by local authorities in Florida, a sign that his company is trying to victimize those affected by the recent storm, has drawn a backlash from social media users who say the Duke roof appears to help with maintenance needs and natural Construction work after disaster. The company, which operates in Texas and Louisiana, has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 2010, the second year of its existence, according to the bureau’s online profile.
An Oct. 9 Twitter post from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation showed Duke being handcuffed by a deputy in the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, prompting one Twitter user to reply: “You know you Is it the bad guy?”
Media relations representatives for the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) did not immediately respond to requests for comment and additional information Thursday.
Duke did not immediately respond to an interview request made through his company on Thursday. “We appreciate it all,” one woman who answered the phone at Duque Roofing said of the support she received on social media.
Working without a license is a felony during a state of emergency.thanks #DBPRhard work by regulators in affected areas, @CCSOFLSheriff An unlicensed roofer has been arrested, putting Floridians at risk. Read more at https://t.co/7nKipJ4l7M. pic.twitter.com/HAHSKwiZZx
— Florida DBPR (@FloridaDBPR) October 9, 2022
An affidavit of probable cause filed in court shows that a DBPR investigator contacted the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office’s Economic Crimes Unit on Oct. 15. 7 and said Duque Roofing had been identified as a contractor not authorized to do business in Florida. According to the affidavit, the company allegedly entered into contracts with homeowners in the Florida coastal town of Cape Haze.
Representatives from the sheriff’s office and state agencies met with Duke at the Haze Point Community Center, where the company parks branded trucks and trailers, according to court records. Duke allegedly told them he had read the emergency order issued by the Florida governor. Court documents show Ron DeSantis had the impression that out-of-state contractors were allowed to work in Florida after the hurricane, but that wasn’t the case.
Duke also told investigators that one of his employees had called DBPR and obtained permission for the company to operate in Florida, but was unable to name the DBPR representative who spoke with his employees, court records show.
“Ignorance is no excuse,” Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummel said at a news conference about Duke’s arrest. “If you’re in Charlotte County doing business with people in this community, you better stay awake and have proper licenses and insurance. These people have had enough and I won’t allow unlicensed contractors to harm them further .”
According to its website, Duque Roofing builds and repairs residential and commercial roofs and gutters, and has a sister home improvement company called Brushstrokes Painting and Remodeling.
Duque Roofing’s website also has a hurricane relief page that asks potential customers to sign up for its “tarps checklist.” Companies will contact those on the list if a storm hits their area, according to the site, which says those who sign up “have no obligation to use our services.”
“Being on our list will help you avoid scammers who often show up after a storm, and ensure you get your tarp as soon as possible so we can protect your assets and personal belongings,” the company said on its website.
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