Four men who live outside of Florida are facing a variety of charges after they allegedly ran a paving scam on three Auburndale residents.
Jim Stevens, Richard Pierce, Chad Lee Sr. and Chad Lee Jr. were booked into the Polk County Jail late Thursday. Pierce, 44, and Lee Jr., 19, are Tennessee residents. Lee Sr., 40, lives in Illinois and Stevens, 35, resides in Hillsborough, North Carolina.
According to a Polk County Sheriff's Office report a patrol deputy observed the suspects driving vehicles with several business names on the side – Orange Paving, Ace Paving, Chad Lee Paving and Power Black Top Paving.
The deputy called for backup, asking for an investigator familiar with so-called ‘gypsy scam artists.'
The report states the men solicited home owners looking to have their driveways paved. The first victim investigators spoke with was an elderly woman who paid $2,500.
When the work was completed it was clear that the victim's driveway had not been paved. The suspects later admitted to using a mixture of old crushed asphalt, dirt and other assorted pieces of debris to do the work.
Two other potential victims had agreed to pay the four men $2,500 and $4,600 respectively to have their driveways paved. Again the men admitted to using substandard materials to do the job.
Detectives observed driveways which were crumbling apart, with foliage observed through the material used by the suspects.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says his deputies are always on the lookout for scam artists looking to make a buck on unsuspecting victims.
"Our deputies are very proactive and when they are out on patrol they are always looking for what's amiss," Judd said following the arrests. "I'm very proud of the patrol deputies who spotted these scam artists and were able to stop them from victimizing these Auburndale homeowners."
The four vehicles Lee Sr., Lee Jr., Stevens and Pierce were driving are now property of the Polk County Sheriff's Office due to the Florida Forfeiture Act.
The trucks and equipment are valued at approximately $140,000.
All four men are facing two counts of burglary of an occupied dwelling, two counts of grand theft, three counts of scheming to defraud, three counts of worker's compensation fraud, one count of grand theft of an elderly person, one count of exploitation of the elderly and three counts of solicitation without a permit.
If you have any information about similar scams or need further information on gypsies and how they operate please contact the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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