Florida Keys

They advertised themselves as low-rate contractors in the Keys —and people believed them

Morales Monroe County Sheriff's Office

A Key West man accused of contractor fraud was arrested again after state investigators said he and a Georgia woman ripped off three homeowners in the Lower Keys.

Mark Morales, 54, of Key West, was arrested Monday on charges of felony grand theft and misdemeanor falsely identifying as a contractor and running misleading advertisements.

Key West Code Compliance officers have cited Morales more than once for conducting business without a contracting license, according to the Monroe County State Attorney’s Office.

Moore Monroe County Sheriff's Office

Also accused in the fraud cases is Julie Moore, 58, whose address was listed as Atlanta. She was arrested on the same charges and additionally on a felony charge of violating a city or county contract.

The duo posted their services on Facebook under the name Paul Brown Roof Repairs, offering a free inspection and roof work “for a fraction of the cost,” investigators for the Monroe State Attorney’s Office said.

State records show neither Morales nor Moore has ever had a contracting license in Florida.

The charges stem from three separate fraud cases.

A Summerland Key man called them and signed a $7,500 contract with Morales for roof repairs on Oct. 12, 2018. The homeowner gave Moore a $3,750 check as a deposit and she cashed it. Morales never showed up to work.

On March 28, 2018, a homeowner in Key West hired the couple to fix his roof for $14,500, giving Moore a $7,000 deposit. Morales did some work, the homeowner on Josephine Street said, but later took a $1,240 check and stopped showing up.

On July 31, 2018, Morales took a $3,600 check from a homeowner on Big Coppitt Key as a deposit on a $7,200 roof repair job. He did some minor repairs, the homeowner said, and took $3,000 more to buy roofing materials. A few weeks went by and Morales never returned and didn’t buy the materials, investigators said.

Gwen Filosa covers Key West and the Lower Florida Keys for FLKeysNews.com and the Miami Herald and lives in Key West. She was part of the staff at the New Orleans Times-Picayune that in 2005 won two Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of Hurricane Katrina. She graduated from Indiana University.