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Jan 22, 2022

Polk City man already in jail for unlicensed contracting and fraud additionally charged in separate case

Media Contact: Carrie Horstman, Administrator

Polk County Jail inmate Richard McDermott (DOB 12/28/70) who was arrested on a warrant in September for Unlicensed Contracting, Scheme to Defraud, Grand Theft, Failure to Secure Worker’s Compensation, & VOP was additionally charged on January 21, 2022, with Scheme to Defraud, Failure to Secure Worker’s Compensation, Grand Theft, and Unlicensed Contracting in a separate investigation.

According to the affidavit, in February 2020 McDermott was hired by a Lakeland man who knew him from his bowling league to create two windows in the victim's home, reseal the lanai and pool deck, and build a 10' by 10' addition to his home.

McDermott told the victim that his contracting business, Imagine Construction and Remodeling, LLC, was licensed and insured.

The victim made the following payments during the ensuing months for the following work:

February 2020 - upon the signing of the contract, the victim gave McDermott a check for $10,385 as an initial payment for the total estimate of $43,328.

March 2020 - the victim gave McDermott a check for $4,328 and gave the subcontractor, APH Construction, a check for $6,000 when they came to the house to begin installing the windows, building the addition to the house, and remodeling the pool deck.

At some point, McDermott fired APH Construction and hired a new subcontractor, L&S Home Remodeling, and told the victim he needed more money to pay the new subcontractor because he (McDermott) was unable to pay him.

May 2020 - the victim paid McDermott $3,567 to dig up the new pool deck because it was sloping towards the house instead of the drain; new sand and pavers had to be installed.

July 2020 - McDermott asked for $10,328 to complete the addition to the house. The victim paid him, and McDermott never returned to complete the work. As of August 2020, the victim never communicated with McDermott again.

In June 2021, the victim sent a certified letter to McDermott's address of record, giving him 30 days to recommence work. The letter went unanswered. The victim contacted law enforcement.

Detectives confirmed all of the aforementioned payments were debited from the victim's accounts and deposited into McDermott's.

PCSO Detectives worked with investigators from the State of Florida Department of Financial Services' Bureau of Workers' Compensation Compliance, and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The investigators determined that Richard McDermott DBA Imagine Construction & Remodeling, LLC, does not have record of a workers' compensation policy nor officer exemption on file, and there is no evidence that Richard McDermott DBA Imagine Construction & Remodeling, LLC, has ever had a current or active license as a contractor in the State of Florida in accordance with Florida Statutes.

PCSO Fraud detectives determined that there is probable cause that Richard McDermott engaged in a systematic, ongoing course of conduct with intent to defraud the victim by obtaining monetary funds from the victim by false or fraudulent pretenses and representations. McDermott did so by engaging in business, acting in the capacity of a contractor, and advertising his business organization (Imagine Construction & Remodeling, LLC) as available to engage in the business or act in the capacity of a contractor without being duly registered or certified. McDermott also knowingly failed to secure worker's compensation insurance coverage as required to do so by state statute. Additionally, McDermott did knowingly obtain the monetary funds from the victim and unlawfully and intentionally did not complete any work whatsoever.

As such, McDermott was charged with the following:

Obtaining property by fraud (F2)
Employer failing to secure workers' compensation (F3)
Grand theft (F2)
Engage in contracting without being duly registered or certified (F3)
Violation of probation (M2)

PCSO Fraud detectives previously arrested and charged McDermott in September 2021 for similar crimes he committed against another victim in May 2021, to whom he had promised a bathroom remodel. That case is still pending an outcome.  

"This suspect is already facing a litany of charges related to his fraudulent business practices, grand theft, and unlicensed contracting in a separate investigation. There may be more victims out there. If you believe Richard McDermott - or anyone else portraying themselves as a licensed contractor - swindled you, please contact law enforcement." - Grady Judd, Sheriff