A Texas roofer was arrested in Florida for repairing homes without a license in what critics are calling an egregious case of no good deed going unpunished. Terence Duque, the owner of Duque Roofing, was arrested last Friday for conducting business without a Florida license, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office said. Duque is a licensed contractor in Texas. He and other Duque Roofing employees traveled to Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian believing that Gov. Ron DeSantis had permitted out-of-state contractors to conduct business in Florida to speed up recovery efforts.
According to the Sheriff’s office, Duque was arrested after an investigator with the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation informed a Charlotte County detective that Duque Roofing had illegally agreed to a contract with a local homeowner. The homeowner said he met with a Duque Roofing employee at the Community Center on Cape Haze Blvd, received an estimate from the employee at his home, and agreed to a written contract for repair.
Authorities then spoke with Duque, who said his company came to Florida to help repair homes damaged by Hurricane Ian.
“Duque advised that he read the Governor’s State of Emergency order regarding contractors and that he understood it to mean that contractors from out of state were permitted to work in Florida,” the sheriff’s office said. “He went on to say that an employee had made contact with the DBPR and that the representative had given him permission to conduct business in Florida, though he could not provide the name of the representative.”
But the investigator told Duque he was mistaken. DeSantis’ executive order only applied to contractors already licensed in Florida. He was arrested for performing work illegally and transported to the Charlotte County Jail without issue, the sheriff’s office said.
If convicted on a felony charge, Duque could face up to five years in prison. If charged with a misdemeanor, he could still be imprisoned for up to one year. Though there is documented evidence that Duque Roofing conducts legitimate business in Texas and Louisiana, Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell accused Duque of “victimizing” residents.
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation celebrated the arrest on Twitter but was blasted in the replies by people who thought the arrest was unfair. Shoshana Weissmann, the digital director for R Street Institute and an expert on occupational licensing, slammed the arrest as an “egregious” example of why states need to adopt universal licensing recognition.
OH I AM LOSING IT. HOURS APART. After Duque Roofing worked with police to help with food after the storm, THEN their person was arrested for unlicensed (they ARE licensed in Texas though) roofing by other police. Just SO EGREGIOUS.
A bunch of things to note here
— Shoshana Weissmann, Sloth Committee Chair 🦥 (@senatorshoshana) October 12, 2022