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‘What’s Happening in Port Orange?’ Facebook page administrator arrested on fraud charges

Mark HarperDaytona Beach News-Journal

The administrator of ‘What’s Happening in Port Orange?’ a popular Facebook page faces three felony charges alleging he impersonated a contractor following Hurricane Ian in order to defraud an 85-year-old homeowner and her family.

Steven Ray Parker, 52, was taken into custody on Wednesday afternoon by a Daytona Beach Shores police officer. A judge had signed a warrant for Parker’s arrest the previous day.

The arrest affidavit states Parker, of Daytona Beach Shores, defrauded a Port Orange homeowner of more than $50,000 by taking a building construction job while presenting the contracting license of someone else − Steven D. Parker, of Cape Coral.

Homeowner Nancy Moore-Fabian, a lifelong Port Orange resident, and her family were forced out of their home when 41 inches of water breached the walls during Hurricane Ian in 2022, said Gwen Wakeman, her daughter.

Wakeman told The News-Journal in an interview Thursday her mom has had to move five times in a little more than a year because of the loss of her home, which she has lived in since 1978.

“She’s lost the whole home. She’s lost her FEMA money, a significant amount,” Wakeman said.

Until three years ago, Moore-Fabian was a longtime greeter for the Port Orange Chick-fil-A who has for decades taken in people “who had nowhere to go,” Wakeman said.

“Her heart is so big,” she said. “When she found out last night that Steve had been arrested, her first comment and thoughts went to other victims he may have hurt. She was so grateful he is off the street and can no longer hurt anybody.”

Wakeman said she had become familiar with Parker through social media.

The Facebook page Parker runs has more than 40,000 followers. Parker had become known for doing good deeds in the community.

He was celebrated on “Getting Results,” a feature on Channel 6 WKMG-TV, Orlando, for donating his time and money to help others whose homes were damaged during the hurricane. And last March he was honored with the local Elks’ Lodge Distinguished Citizenship Award.

‘Feeling like he’s legit’

Wakeman got an estimate from Parker in March and said she checked into his license.

“The contract he gave us actually had a contractor’s license on it with a website,” Wakeman said. “When you put his license number in (the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation website), it comes out Steve Parker. So we were feeling like he’s legit. Come to find out he is not.”

At a news conference Thursday, Detective James Fischetti of the Port Orange police said the home needed plumbing, electrical work, wall repairs, floor replacements and bathroom remodeling.

“Mr. Parker did start work, went into the house began working and approximately a few months later, the work started to slow down,” Fischetti said.

Parker had gotten an initial payment of nearly $35,000. About May 1, he told Moore-Fabian he was about 50% done and requested more, getting a check worth more than $17,000, the affidavit states.

Wakeman estimated that only about 15%-20% of the work was ever done on the home.

She had an attorney contact Parker in September to inform him that he was in violation of their contract and demanded 80% of the funds paid be refunded, the affidavit states. The refund was never sent.

Wakeman said she learned through the state DBPR that Parker might be using another contractor’s license, so she contacted the police.

First degree felony

One of the charges Parker faces, scheming to defraud a value greater than $50,000, is a first-degree felony, Fischetti said. The other two felonies are fraud by impersonating a contractor during a state of emergency and fraud by possessing the identification of another person without consent.

Fischetti said his investigation found Parker had not obtained permits to do any of the contracting work.

The detective also spoke with Steven D. Parker, who owns S&S Construction of SWFL Inc. Steven D. Parker said a Port Orange resident had asked him if he was doing work in Volusia County after she had been contacted in a Home Depot store by a contractor who shared Steven D. Parker’s license number.

According to the arrest affidavit, Steven D. Parker shared a screenshot with Port Orange police from “What’s Happening in Port Orange?” posted by Steven R. Parker stating: “Shameless plug for those that don’t know. (Private message) me if you need me. I own Pro Aqua Paint and Pressure Wash. I also own S&S Construction of SWFL. Also licensed and insured for both.”

The company’s owner told Port Orange police he filed a complaint with DBPR and the Cape Coral police, but was unaware of any actions that might have been taken, the affidavit states.

The defendant gave Fischetti a statement on Thursday morning, the detective said, but he declined to provide details, other than to say he is continuing to investigate.

Police are asking that people who feel they may have been victimized by Parker to contact Det. James Fischetti at 386-506-5897 or email jfischetti@port-orange.org. Also, the city is asking anyone who hired Parker and has questions about the quality of the work to contact the Port Orange Building Department at 386-506-5602  or email buildingpermits@port-orange.org to schedule an inspection.

Parker declares innocence

Parker, who bonded out of jail just before 2 p.m. Thursday, is scheduled to make a first appearance in court on Saturday.

He used the “What’s Happening” page to announce his response to the charges.

“By now everyone has seen my mugshot. Not my best moment,” he wrote. “I will say this only once. I am innocent of the charges. This is an accusation that was made by one person that took it to the extreme when she was not happy with the work that was being done.”

Parker said a lot of false statements have been made and he will prove that.

“I have done a lot of good in the community. I would hope people give me the benefit of the doubt,” Parker posted.

A search of the DBPR website shows no professional licenses ever held in Florida by Steven Ray Parker or Steven R. Parker. The Department of State’s Sunbiz website, which provides information on corporations, shows a Proaqua Paint and Pressure Washing, LLC, owned by Steven R. Parker of Daytona Beach Shores obtained a business license on Oct. 6, 2022, and dissolved on Sept. 22, 2023.

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