Family Loses Thousands of Dollars After Hiring Unlicensed Contractor

NBC 6's Alina Machado reports.

(Published Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017)

Marina Linardi was looking forward to having a place of her own, a place she could enjoy in retirement.

"I was really looking forward to that," she said, while standing inside the condo she thought would be her refuge.

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But that dream was delayed, after Marina says the man she hired to fix up the Pembroke Pines condo took thousands of dollars and left her place in shambles.

“It’s impacting me because I now see I don’t look forward to retiring in two years,” Marina said. “I don’t know for how long I’m going to be able to save again and pay what I already owe.”

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Marina and her daughter, Nicole, connected with Daniel Cagle through an online home improvement site earlier this year.

“We liked the fact that he was prompt,” said Nicole Linardi. “We wanted to get the place done.”

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Nicole says Cagle told them he was working under someone else’s license – and gave them several documents as proof.

“All of that gave us peace of mind,” Nicole said. “We’re like, well he’s not working alone, he’s working in a team and there’s people that are licensed and they know what they’re doing.”

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So Marina signed a $40,000 contract with Cagle and wrote out a check for $20,000 so he could to start the job.

“That’s the problem,” Nicole said. “We didn’t debate it, we didn’t question whether it was too much.”

Nicole says Cagle started the job and less than a month later, her mom wrote out a second check for $10,000. That’s when they say their problems started.

“He stopped answering us completely,” Nicole said.

State records show Daniel Cagle has never held a construction license with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation or DBPR. Daniel and John Dalton Construction – a company that had been registered to Cagle and with no apparent connection to any John Dalton – is listed in state records as dissolved in August.

NBC 6 Responds tried to reach Cagle several ways, but he didn’t come to the door when our team stopped by the address listed on the contract Marina signed nor did he respond to any calls or emails. Our team was able to reach the contractor whose license documents Cagle showed Marina and Nicole. He didn’t want to talk on camera but said he gave Cagle those documents thinking Cagle would bring him new business. The man told our team he didn’t know about the contract Cagle made with Marina and says he never received any money.

According to DBPR, construction contracts are required to list the licensed contractor’s business name and license number – information that wasn’t on the contract Marina signed. Marina and Nicole now wish they had done things differently.

“Looking back, I think we should have done a more in-depth homework on who we were hiring and who we were trusting and giving such a large amount of money to,” Nicole said.

Marina filed a police report and a complaint with DBPR.

If someone says they’re working under someone’s license, make sure your contract is with the licensed contractor and that you’re paying that company. You should also never hand over so much money up front. State law requires that contractors who take more than 10 percent as an initial payment do a number of things, including apply for permits within 30 days. No permits were ever pulled for work done in Marina’s condo.

You can read more about state law governing money received by contractors by clicking here.

You can check to see if a contractor is licensed by visiting the DBPR website and clicking on "Verify a License."