Insurance Fraud NEWS
Wilmington businessman investigated by California license board
March 22, 2018, Wilmington, CA
A Wilmington businessman is being investigated by a California license board for debris removal work in the city of Santa Rosa, struck recently by wildfires.
Peter Koke, owner of Koke Demolition & Salvage in Wilmington, also operates an office in Santa Rosa. Rick Lopes, spokesman for the California Contractors State License Board, said Koke has been offering debris removal services in the city and clients have contacted the board alleging they paid Koke for services that have not been rendered.
Wildfires last fall destroyed thousands of buildings in the area.
“We’ve gotten a number of complaints from the fire survivors here, the consumers,” Lopes said.
Lopes said the board served a warrant on Wednesday at Koke’s California office to determine if the work he was doing requires a license under California state law. He said no criminal charges have been filed.
“In California, the law says that any home improvement job that is $500 or more you need to have a state license,” Lopes said. “We believe that some of this work that he’s been doing does require a license, he does not have a license.”
Lopes said someone from Koke’s office has applied for a license. In a phone interview Friday, Koke confirmed that he had applied for a license. He said the investigation arose because a competitor in California complained to the license board.
“Of course there’s been no crimes committed or anything illegally done,” he said. “Business is great, life is great, and I appreciate the opportunity to address any of the uncertainties.”
Lopes said the investigation is still underway, and if his board determines charges are warranted, they would be recommended to the district attorney there.
“We’re also warning the consumers in the area because Mr. Koke has implied to us that he doesn’t believe he is in violation and he plans to continue doing some of this work,” Lopes said.
The news also follows Koke’s recent conviction for insurance fraud in New Hanover County. According to the New Hanover County District Attorney’s Office, he was also found guilty of obtaining property by false pretenses in an incident involving insurance on a car found submerged in the Cape Fear River.
A news release from the DA’s office stated that Koke received two consecutive 11- to 23-month sentences and 36 months’ supervised probation. But spokeswoman Samantha Dooies clarified Friday that that sentence is suspended, and the time will not have to be served unless Koke violates the terms of his probation.
Dooies said Koke also received a split sentence of 42 days to be served in six seven-day increments at the discretion of his probation officer.
“It’s pretty unusual to get something structured this way -- for ease of the press release we sent out what is simplest,” Dooies explained. “What we sent was not incorrect, it was maybe a little incomplete, to Mr. Koke’s benefit.”
Koke is known in Wilmington for buying the building that formerly housed the Taste of Country restaurant at 226 S. Front St., a 150-year-old home that has fallen into disrepair. Koke had long fought with neighbors, preservationists and the city over the condition of the house. For a few months in 2016, Koke was racking up more than $6,000 in monthly fines for “demolition by neglect,” including the collapse of a historic wall.
Source: StarNews Online