Agriculture Commissioner targets unscrupulous landscaper in Les Villages
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services teamed up with local law enforcement and other agencies, resulting in the arrest of a landscaping / landscaping sales representative pest control with a long history of unscrupulous activity in The Villages.
Acting on the basis of information obtained during an investigation, investigators from the Bureau of Farm Law Enforcement obtained two separate arrest warrants for Kenneth Wayne Smith, 61, of Ocala from the fifth Judicial circuit court for a total of two crimes and seven misdemeanors. Smith spent Christmas and New Years without bail at the Marion County Jail, on a multitude of charges, including probation violations.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office arrested Smith on Dec. 8 on the current first warrant, and he was incarcerated in the Lake County Jail for one felony and two misdemeanors on bail set at $ 7,000. On December 21, the Ocala Police Department arrested Smith on the outstanding second term.
“Thanks to the vigilance of our Agricultural Environmental Services and Agricultural Regulations teams, this scheme has been brought to light and this fraudster has been arrested. This should serve as a warning to those who attempt to target Florida consumers with fraudulent schemes that we take these crimes seriously and that such illegal activity will have consequences, ”said Commissioner Nikki Fried. “Before hiring a pest control operator or any other service provider, we encourage consumers to research the entity for complaints or reported violations. Know that we’re here to enforce the law and protect Floridians from fraud and pest control violations, and you can immediately report any concerns to our department as the state’s premier consumer protection agency.
The investigation found that Smith had made deals with consumers for landscaping and pest control services and had received advance payments from several residents of The Villages and several residents of Sumter County. Smith then frequently failed to perform the services at all or as contractually required. When Smith’s customers called to inquire, Smith did not respond. Investigators have determined that Smith often changes the name and location of his business without notifying customers, reimbursing advance payments, or making arrangements to complete promised services.
Smith has a long history of problems with the services provided to villagers through his former lawn services company, Service Smart Inc., with over 300 complaints filed against him in Seniors vs. Crime. He dissolved the company, which was located at 530 NW 1st Ave. in Ocala on September 22, 2017, according to the Florida Division of Corporations, and apparently continued to work in The Villages after that date. He was working as a salesperson for Good Neighbors Landscape when he was arrested, according to a report from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
The Fruitland Park Police Department had its fair share of dealings with Smith, starting in August 2018, when a detective encountered a resident of Pine Ridge Village who said she posted $ 1,473 bail. to Service Smart for work that had not been done. She said she wanted pavers installed at her house and when Smith told her it was a special order and the cost would be higher, she asked for her money and didn’t. received.