www.local10.com, Chris Gothner, October 17, 2023
CONCH KEY, Fla. – Monroe County deputies arrested a contractor from Homestead on a felony charge Monday after they accused him of taking more than $100,000 from a couple to build a house, but failed to complete the job or give them their money back.
According to an arrest warrant from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, the New Port Richey couple hired Michael Gregory Pekel, the owner of Premier General Contractors, in April of 2022 to build a home on Conch Key.
The couple put in a deposit of $37,500 and later paid Pekel, 32, an additional $75,000 he requested to complete the shell of the house, deputies said, totaling about $112,000, more than 10% of the agreed-upon contract.
“Afterward, Michael began to not answer their phone calls or text messages for weeks at a time,” deputies wrote in the warrant. “In (nine) months, Michael had only completed a ground floor of concrete work.”
The warrant states Pekel told the couple he had put in a $19,000 order with a Miami supply company. Deputies said the couple called the company, which said it had no record or invoice of such an order.
Authorities said Pekel also skipped out on a meeting the couple scheduled to go over expenses.
“Michael continued to not answer phone calls or messages to confirm the meeting,” investigators wrote. “(The victim) had been informed by subcontractors of Michael, that he is also not returning their calls.”
A certified letter sent to Pekel’s business address demanding a refund went unanswered, the warrant states.
Deputies arrested Pekel in Tavernier Monday on a felony charge under Florida’s “moneys received by contractors” statute, which addresses contractors who fail to perform work.
His legal troubles extend back to Miami-Dade County, where he’s currently facing three grand theft charges after an arrest by Miami-Dade police in May, according to court records.
Pekel remained a licensed general and roofing contractor as of Tuesday, according to state records.