KEY WEST, June 12, 2020 – A Key West man who allegedly ripped off a friend for hundreds of thousands of dollars through illegal contracting has been jailed on several felony counts.
Cristian Swanson, 60, was arrested June 11 for unlicensed contracting during a State of Emergency, grand theft of $100,000 or more, fraud and using another person’s personal identification without consent.
The victim lost $208,000 in the scheme, which happened in the months following Hurricane Irma in September 2017 while a governor-declared State of Emergency was still in effect. State Attorney’s Office Investigator Frank Zamora filed the affidavit leading to Swanson’s arrest.
Swanson’s company, Marine Resources LLC, built and repaired seawalls and docks. But it was not state-licensed for construction, despite Swanson telling the victim, a Dennis Street homeowner, that he was a licensed contractor.
In January 2018, the homeowner asked Swanson to evaluate his property, which was damaged in the hurricane. Swanson told him it didn’t need to be demolished but could be repaired and renovated. The victim hired Swanson to do the repairs and get the necessary permits from the city of Key West.
Swanson farmed out the permitting process to subcontractors, and one received a permit for demolition, not construction. Another received a permit to repair the roof. Another permit tentatively allowed for inside repair work. Another subcontractor received a permit to take out the house’s electric infrastructure. None of the subcontractors were involved in any actual demolition or renovations; they were hired by Swanson merely to obtain the permits.
In October 2018, Key West’s Building Department issued a stop-work order for the property, saying the work being done went beyond the scope of the permits. Swanson told the homeowner not to worry about it and he would take care of the issue. But he didn’t. The property remains vacant, the stop-work order is still in force and citations for violating the city’s code are pending before the city’s code-enforcement special magistrate.
From May 22, 2018, to June 25, 2019, the homeowner paid Swanson $208,000 in 12 separate payments. Only minimal repair was done.