Florida DBPR / Twitter
A good samaritan and Texas roofer, Terence Duque, was arrested in Flordia last Friday (Oct 7) while working to repair a roof in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian and people all over are coming to his defense.
According to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, Duque, who owns Duque Roofing, was conducting business without a Florida license which is a felony in the state of Florida.
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.
Duque is a Platinum Preferred Contractor of the national roofing supply company Owens Corning and a licensed contractor in Texas. He and other Duque Roofing employees traveled to Florida after the hurricane to help communities speed up recovery efforts while believing that Gov. Ron DeSantis had permitted out-of-state contractors to conduct business in Florida.
Duque Roofing has previously assisted with hurricane relief, according to their website, where they provided tarps, food, and water to those impacted by severe weather.
The state Department of Business and Professional Regulation in Florida was said to have heard about Duque working in the area and sent an investigator who learned that Duque Roofing had illegally agreed to a contract with a local homeowner.
The Sherrifs Office said that, “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. 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.”
The investigator informed Duque that he was mistaken. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order only applied to contractors already licensed in Florida.
Duque was arrested on the spot for performing work illegally and taken to the Charlotte County Jail without issue. Even 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.
“Ignorance is not an excuse,” Prummell said in a statement. “If you are in Charlotte County, doing business with the people of this community, you had better be on the up-and-up and have the appropriate licensing and insurance. These people have been through enough, and I will not allow unlicensed contractors to further victimize them.”
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation boasted about the arrest on Twitter but was immediately blasted with replies from people who thought the arrest was not right and very unfair.
During a State of Emergency, working without proper licensure is a felony. Thanks to #DBPR‘s Division of Regulation’s hard work in impacted areas, @CCSOFLSheriff arrested an unlicensed roofing worker putting Floridians at risk. Read more at https://t.co/7nKipJ4l7M. pic.twitter.com/HAHSKwiZZx
— Florida DBPR (@FloridaDBPR) October 9, 2022
Digital director for R Street Institute and an expert on occupational licensing, Shoshana Weissmann, slammed the department for arresting Duque.
The Institute for Justice, which is a public interest law firm, spoke out and cited Duque’s case as a call for Florida to adopt “alternatives to licensing” that would quicken recovery efforts.
The Institute for Justice also pointed out that in a 2004 study that examined Florida’s response to Hurricane Frances, a decision was made at the time that permitted out-of-state roofers to work in Florida after the hurricane.