Court document reveals unlicensed exterminator fined, warned and watched, but continued to spray
TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Joe Mendoza was followed for about three years by state investigators who warned him about working as an exterminator without a license, but the warrant that led to his arrest reveals that he never stopped stopping before being arrested.
Mendoza, 65, of Thonotosassa, is now charged with five felonies for counterfeiting and fraud over $ 50,000 and three felonies for illegally advertising a pest control company.
The arrest warrant gave details of alleged illegal work carried out at five addresses in Tampa, Seffner and Riverview by Mendoza’s one-man operation, Joe’s Pest Control.
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) investigators, who monitored Mendoza, previously said he had a constant flow of about 10 weekly clients and received referrals from local real estate agents. .
The charges against Mendoza involve the creation of fraudulent Wood Destroyer Organization (WDO) reports, a key document in the sale of Florida Homes.
Mendoza has been warned twice since 2018 to stop its pest control work, according to the warrant which also detailed Jonah Huggins’ purchase of an East Osborne Street home.
Huggins, an army veteran, said he was fooled by the WDO report from Mendoza which showed no signs of bugs in the house. But about 10 days after the shutdown, there were termite swarms, according to Huggins. He also found damage in several areas of the house.
“The seller’s real estate agent, Laura Keyes, would have chosen Joe’s Pest Control,” the warrant said.
Keyes was also the seller’s real estate agent when a January inspection report by a licensed exterminator indicated there were signs of termites in the East Osborne Street home. A buyer contracted to purchase the property at the time withdrew from the deal just days after signing this WDO report.
According to the warrant, Keyes told investigators she was unaware that Mendoza was unlicensed.
Keyes, her broker Dalton Wade and East Osborne Home salesperson Darlene Allen did not respond to requests for comment.
They are all defendants in the Huggins lawsuit which accuses Keyes of negligence and the sellers of fraudulent non-disclosure.
Huggins attorney Alex Mindrup said sellers are required to amend disclosures if a new deficiency is discovered during an inspection.
“It is illegal for him to refuse this,” Mindrup said. “When you tell someone your house is riddled with termites and they’ve been around for god knows how long, it’s gonna be very hard to sell.”
Mindrup, which specializes in this type of real estate business, said it has seen more legal litigation during Florida’s scorching real estate market.
“More and more people are flipping houses, selling houses, and you can’t get that much money or even sell them if there are problems,” Mindrup said. “This is where fraud sometimes comes into play.”
FDACS spokeswoman Erin Moffet said she could not answer further questions on the Mendoza case.
“Our investigation into Joe’s Pest Control remains active,” Moffet said. “Therefore, we cannot disclose any additional information beyond what has already been reported.”