U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and a state agency that polices insurance — worker compensation — fraud raided several construction sites in Holmes Beach Oct. 16, leading to the arrest of at least one worker.
A sweep by federal and state agents before noon that day ended with a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office report that states Emanuel Centeno-Hernandez, 33, of Bradenton, was arrested for worker compensation fraud.
The report lists Beach to Bay Construction as Centeno-Hernandez’s employer, but company president Scott Eason wrote in an Oct. 17 email to The Islander and the Bradenton Herald, that Centeno-Hernandez is “not an employee of Beach to Bay Construction and we were unaware of him providing false identification to gain employment.”
Centeno-Hernandez was arrested at 119 Neptune Lane, Holmes Beach, which according to an email from Eason, is one of 15 ongoing Beach to Bay projects. Beach to Bay Construction Inc. is located at 5702 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.
According to Eason, Centeno-Hernandez works for a Beach to Bay subcontractor and “obtained the required documentation for that subcontractor prior to them working on our job site.”
Eason also wrote he was aware of the investigation before the arrest and has been cooperating with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Immigration and Custom Enforcement and the Florida Department of Financial Services/Division of Insurance Fraud.
Construction workers were taken from five locations, three of which were Beach to Bay Construction job sites, according to Eason. Another work site visited in the raid Oct. 16 was 213 84th St., Holmes Beach.
At press time, the Centeno-Hernandez arrest was the only action reported by authorities from the raids. No other arrests were reported.
The felony charge against Centeno-Hernandez is based on a state law that makes it unlawful to present any false, fraudulent or misleading information as evidence of a person’s identity to obtain employment.
Centeno-Hernandez was taken to the Manatee County jail and, at press time, was being held for $500 bond.
An arraignment on the felony charge was set for 9 a.m. Nov. 16 before Circuit Court Judge Thomas Krug in Courtroom 2-A, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.
ICE spokesperson Carissa Cutrell declined to comment on the ongoing investigation, adding that further information will be available upon indictments, if any.
A court document filed Oct. 17 indicates Manatee County will not consider Centeno-Hernandez for its supervised release program due to an ICE hold.
“The only thing we have to do with it is the jail,” said MSCO spokesman David Bristow. “Everyone who gets arrested here gets booked through our jail.”
He said Oct. 18, “I’m assuming nobody else got arrested, but I don’t know.”
According to an Oct. 16 report filed by the DFS/DIF arresting officer with the sheriff’s office, Centeno-Hernandez unlawfully used a Social Security number not assigned to him April 8 to procure and maintain employment with Beach to Bay Construction.
The report also stated that the DFS/DIF received information July 17 from Homeland Security that at least 18 workers showed false identification for the purpose of procuring employment.
On Aug. 28, according to the report, the arresting officer learned from the Social Security Administration that the number was not assigned to Centeno-Hernandez. Also according to the report, Eason confirmed Centeno-Hernandez used the number to procure employment.
As of presstime, DFS/DIF spokespersons did not return calls for comment.
Holmes Beach Police Department Lt. Dale Stephenson said there will be no report from the HBPD because it was not the arresting agency.