A man accused of swindling thousands of dollars from two elderly victims by posing as a licensed contractor pleaded “not guilty” to second-degree theft Monday.
Police say Alexander Nebre was arrested after he allegedly stole money from a 70-year-old woman and an 83-year-old man.
He remains in jail with bail set at $150,000 and his trial is set for August.
The state took Nebre to civil court in 2010. The judge in that case ordered him to pay back more than $200,000 to five elderly women for work he never completed.
“The promises to make repairs ranged from hurricane clips to installing water heaters to just painting and doing other things, but the offer to do the contracting work was just really so widespread,” said Daria Loy-Goto, chief complaints officer with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
This time around, Nebre faces jail time if found guilty. That’s because unlicensed contractors are now committing a felony under a bill passed this legislative session.
Another measure just enacted increases the fine from $10,000 to $20,000 for each case of unlicensed contractor activity.
State regulators and police say they need people to come forward and report these types of cases, even if they feel ashamed or lost a lot of money.
“We tell people that we see cases every day and don’t be embarrassed about calling our office, we see a lot of complaints every day,” said Loy-Goto.
The state says hiring a licensed contractor is always the best practice.
“Before you agree to have anyone do work at your house, we really do advocate hiring a licensed contractor for a lot of reasons. They have the experience necessary, they’re licensed with the state, they’ve been through a vetting process so you know they’re qualified to do the work,” said Loy-Goto.