Local construction firm says it was victim of fraud too

Devan Patel
Marco Eagle
Rob Reiley points out where damage occurred due to shoddy workmanship by his repair company. Marco Island police are conducting an investigation into the operations of one contractor who generated numerous complaints for their post-Irma repair work.

Jim Pickens’ confusion turned to anger as he learned complaints had been filed against his company for construction work it was allegedly contracted to perform.

As the president of Star Construction & Restoration, LLC, saw the names of the people that were upset, he was taken aback because he didn’t know who any of them were nor did he or his son Jamie ever have any contact with them. 

Then, it became evident to him that his company too was the victim of fraud as another company, Remodeling Services and Complete Restoration, was using its contractor’s license for work Pickens never authorized.

“Mike Clark and Lindy Anglin were authorized to solicit work for Star Construction & Restoration, LLC,” Pickens wrote to Anthony Di Cristofano, an investigator with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation on April 2, 2018. “They were given business cards that had Star’s name and license number on it. It was not to be used as authorization for RSACR to obtain contracts or receive funds from anyone.”

Pickens said he had used Clark and the Indiana-based RSACR as a subcontractor on different jobs for about three and a half years and prior to the recent incidents, the work was done up to par.

Pickens said RSACR was subcontracted for one job, at the Snook Inn, after Hurricane Irma devastated Marco Island.

It was the contractor's affidavit page on the permit late last year that raised red flags. 

Permits pulled from the city of Marco Island’s Building Department show the same exact page was used on several permit applications that happened after that page was submitted on Nov. 30, 2017. 

In other permits, notarized by Anglin and submitted to the Marco Island building department, Jamie Pickens name is sometimes misspelled on the application or the signature also appears different than the originally approved permit.

The newer permits also do not contain “V.P,” or vice president, in the signature that Jamie Pickens has used in all other permits submitted by or on behalf of him.

Anglin, RSACR's operations manager, denied Star Construction's allegations but declined to comment on the advice of legal counsel.

Pickens said Star Construction has also sent out letters to homeowners that may have been allegedly defrauded by RSACR to explain the situation.

“My client has become aware that a former subcontractor, Mike Clark, has started an entity (R.S.A.C.R.) and not only held himself out in the community as being an authorized representative of Star to receive deposits but has also accepted deposits from homeowners and created a letterhead reflecting such affiliation using my client’s name and logo, all under the representation that Star was affiliated with these projects and has pulled permits as if he was associated with Star,” attorney Kevin Jursinski wrote in a letter.

In every case, checks were made out to RSACR, not Star Construction.

Star Construction has contacted the Better Business Bureau, local building departments, the Florida State Attorney’s Office and local Sheriff’s Office in addition to submitting a complaint with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation over the authorized use of its contractor's license.

With investigations currently active at both the Marco Island Police Department and Collier County Sheriff’s Office, information on criminal complaints could not be provided at this time.

RSACR has not escaped complaints elsewhere, however, as it was sued in Greenfield, Indiana, for not completing the work it was contracted to do on a recovery house.

Anglin told the Greenfield Daily Reporter that the money it was forwarded had been returned after RSACR had become overextended due to the damage of hurricanes in Florida and Texas.

From the number of complaints Star Construction has received thus far, Pickens estimated between $300,000 and $500,000 worth of work has been permitted fraudulently using his firm's name, which he noted was also popping up in other cities in Collier County.

In the meantime, Pickens said his business has been hurt severely by RSACR’s actions so much so that he’s had to meet with different clients and boards to address the complaints.

While his company is exploring its legal options at this point, Pickens feared the damage might have already been done.

“I don’t think we’ll ever be made whole,” Pickens said.