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Wednesday, Sep 20, 2017
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Unlicensed contractor leaves unfinished work

A contractor, who is not registered with the state or Hillsborough County, has left a homeowner with an unfinished kitchen and bathroom. Alfred Santiago, who has a business on North Himes Avenue, also has been charged four times for doing work without a license in Pinellas County. Alicia Williams thought she was getting a renovated kitchen and bathroom for her Hillsborough County townhouse when she gave Santiago a $2,390 down payment in November. Today, her kitchen and bathroom remain unfinished. The new kitchen cabinets still have no doors, her bathroom has no vanity or sink and she has had no luck getting Santiago to finish the job.
"We gave him the deposit on Nov. 16 and he was supposed to install the cabinets the week of Dec. 18 and it was supposed to be done by Christmas. That didn't happen.  He didn't even start until January," Williams said. So far she has paid Santiago more than $3,500. "I want my kitchen finished; if it can't be finished I want my money back," she said. Santiago said he has done nothing wrong.  He contends Williams didn't like the granite after she first approved it, he paid for it and then installed it. "She said if we finish, she's not going to pay me. No more comment," Santiago said. Santiago said he has done nothing wrong and that he follows the rules. An 8 On Your Side investigation found there are several rules he did not follow. According to the director of Hillsborough County's Center for Development Services, Peggy Smith, a contractor must be licensed by the state or registered with the county to work on a project that exceeds $1,000.  Santiago is neither a state-certified contractor nor is he registered with the county.   "It is illegal for the contractor to do work and not be licensed," Smith said. Smith points out first-time offenders face a $1,000 fine.  Repeat offenders face possible jail time. She said the county will investigate Santiago and his businesses, AES & Associates of Florida Inc. and Kitchen and Bathroom Boutique, on North Himes Avenue. Santiago is also dealing with similar issues in Pinellas County.  Law enforcement has charged him with unlicensed contracting four times, with the latest charge in March.  A judge issued a warrant for his arrest when he did not appear at a hearing earlier this month.  He turned himself in the next day.    News Channel 8 has videotaped Santiago three times driving in Hillsborough County.  And, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles revoked his license and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office arrested Santiago in April 2008 and September 2011 for driving without a license.  As for Williams, she is stuck with an incomplete kitchen and a hole where her bathroom vanity used to be. "Money doesn't grow on trees, it took us time to save for this," she said.
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