JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two Jacksonville brothers who ran a roofing business have been arrested, accused of scamming dozens of people in several Northeast Florida counties out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Adolph and John Carlson are charged with running an organized scheme to defraud someone of over $100,000 and engaging in an organized scheme to defraud -- both first-degree felonies. The brothers own Carlson Roofing, which has been the subject of several I-TEAM reports over the past year.
The brothers, 44 and 41 years old, were arrested Tuesday in Duval County and held without bond. They made their first appearances before a judge Wednesday afternoon.
State Attorney R.J. Larizza, who filed the charges in Volusia County, said Wednesday some of the victims had paid the brothers to repair damage from hurricanes Michael and Irma.
Larizza was joined at a news conference Wednesday by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody to announce the arrests in what they called Operation Hurricane Hustle. They said the charges are the result of a criminal investigation that identified 43 victims in St. Johns, Flagler and Volusia counties who collectively suffered losses totaling $455,660.84.
"Carlson Enterprises was previously investigated by our offices ... after we learned they were scamming vulnerable Floridians by taking money from promised roofing repairs and never showing back to do the work," Moody said.
Those losses were just in the 7th Judicial Circuit. The Carlson brothers also operated in other counties in the greater Jacksonville area. The Better Business Bureau has processed 100 complaints about the company. Nearly 30 of those came from Clay, Duval and Nassau counties.
Since last March, the I-TEAM has documented cases in Duval and Clay counties in which residents paid Carlson Enterprises for work that was never completed.
Officials said the brothers used the money on personal expenses.
"At least one of its owners used company bank accounts for use of extravagant personal expenses and that would include airline tickets, accommodations at Disney resorts and even Louis Vuitton," Moody said.
Patricia Tauch, who owns Orange Park Kindergarten, said she was victimized by Carlson Enterprises.
"They can’t take advantage of us like that and expect nothing to happen," Tauch told the I-TEAM on Wednesday. "People trusted them and put their faith in them to do what they said they were going to do, and they didn’t do it.”
The I-TEAM first talked with Tauch in March 2018. Her day care was damaged in Hurricane Irma, and she explained that her business paid Carlson more than $16,000 for work that wasn’t started.
Last year, the Construction Industry Licensing Board took up 65 cases against Adolph Carlson, of Carlson Enterprises. He was accused of taking money from dozens of customers and then abandoning the jobs. Customers filed complaints with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which then investigated the allegations.
The board accepted the penalty recommended by the attorney handling the case, which resulted in a fine in excess of $800,000, plus investigative costs, and restitution to the individual complainants. Carlson’s license was also voluntarily relinquished.
In April 2018, the Florida Attorney General's Office sued Carlson Enterprises over its business practices. The state also asked a judge to freeze the company’s assets, which the judge agreed to do. That lawsuit is ongoing.
If you have had problems Carlson Enterprises, you can file complaints with the following organizations and agencies:
- Better Business Bureau of Northeast Florida: Carlson Enterprises
- Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation
- Florida Office of the Attorney General
If you are hiring a roofer, you can check the state’s website to make sure the business is licensed by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
The Better Business Bureau’s website also offers advice for consumers on hiring a roofing contractor in Florida.