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CSLB Press Release - 09/06/11

CSLB Sting Sends One Illegal Operator to Jail and May Disconnect Another

Two-day undercover operation cracks down on the underground economy in Solano County


SACRAMENTO — Tevite Heneli Anitoni, 49, of Vallejo, was booked into jail for felony fraudulent use of a contractor’s license that didn’t belong to him during a Contractors State License Board (CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) sting in Vallejo on August 31 and September 1, 2011. Anitoni was recently caught contracting without a license and using a license not issued to him during a CSLB sweep of construction sites in Solano County on July 15, 2011. He has bailed out of jail, and his court date to face charges in the September 1 sting is set for September 22, 2011.

This sting also netted, Martin Gonzalez, 45, of Vallejo, who will be subject to the Public Utilities Commission disconnecting his telephone number if he continues to contract without a license and illegally advertise in classified directories for contractor jobs for which he is not appropriately licensed.

SWIFT investigators posed as homeowners seeking bids for landscaping, fencing, concrete, electrical, and cabinetry projects during the two-day operation; the Solano County District Attorney’s Office assisted in the undercover operation at the Vallejo sting home. Fifteen who were not properly licensed and bid more than $500 for labor and materials received notices to appear in court for contracting without a license, and related violations. (California’s Business and Professions (B&P) Code requires a contractor license for home improvement jobs valued at $500 or more for combined labor and material costs.) B&P Code also requires that contractor license numbers be placed in all forms of advertising. Those without licenses who did not state that they were unlicensed contractors in their advertisements also face illegal advertising charges. Non-licensed individuals can advertise and perform jobs valued at less than $500 provided their ads state that they are not a licensed contractor. California Labor Code requires that all employees be covered by a workers’ compensation insurance policy to protect homeowners if a worker is injured on their property and to provide appropriate medical care for an injured worker.

“CSLB investigators and our partners in law enforcement will use all legal options to curb participation in the underground economy,” said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. “Unlicensed, uninsured activity puts consumers at financial risk and hurts the integrity of the construction industry and home improvement contractors who follow the laws and regulations of this state.”

The following people who received notices to appear are scheduled for arraignment in Solano County Superior Court at 321 Tuolumne Street, Vallejo, CA, on October 12 and 13, 2011:

DAY 1:

SUSPECT NAME, BUSINESS, & CITY AGE WORK
CLASSIFICATION
VIOLATIONS
Enrique Chavez Esquivel
Enrique Gardening & Maintenance
American Canyon
39 Fencing Illegal advertising
Jose Dejesus Rodriguez
Rodriguez Construction
Vallejo
49 Concrete Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, failure to carry workers’ comp
Brandon Bledsoe
Vallejo
27 Electrical Contracting without a license
Ruben Estrada
Fairfield
25 Landscaping Contracting without a license, illegal advertising
Ramon Anguiano
Fairfield
55 Landscaping Contracting without a license, illegal advertising
Arturo Sanchez Puente
Sunshine Landscaping
Napa
41 Landscaping Contracting without a license, illegal advertising
Pedro Morales-Romero
New Look Concrete Const.
Santa Rosa
33 Concrete Contracting without a license, illegal advertising
Jose Mariano Rodriguez-Garcia
Gateway Painting
Fairfield
30 Painting Contracting without a license, illegal advertising


DAY 2:

SUSPECT NAME, BUSINESS, & CITY AGE WORK
CLASSIFICATION
VIOLATIONS
Jose Alberto Bernal Benitez
Ochoa’s Concrete & Landscape
Fairfield
27 Landscaping Contracting without a license, illegal advertising
Ivanhoe Alanis Torres
Suisun City
32 Concrete Contracting without a license, illegal advertising
Lucas Rene Gomez
Rene & Bros.
Dixon
55 Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry Contracting without a license, illegal advertising
Martin Gonzalez
Gonzalez Landscaping
Vallejo
45 Landscaping Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, subject to telephone disconnect
Matthew James Bianchi
Benicia
30 Painting Contracting without a license
Balbir Singh Aujla
Bill’s Yard Services
Vallejo
49 Landscaping Contracting without a license, illegal advertising
Garth Leslie Hopkins
Vallejo
45 Fencing Contracting without a license, illegal advertising

CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips before hiring anyone to work on their home:

  • Hire only licensed contractors and ask to see their license and a photo ID to verify their identity.
  • Always check the license number on CSLB’s website at www.cslb.ca.gov or www.CheckTheLicenseFirst.com to make sure the license is in good standing.
  • Don’t pay more than 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment. There is an exception for about two dozen licensees who carry special bonds to protect consumers. These exceptions are noted on CSLB’s website.
  • Don’t pay in cash, and don’t let payments get ahead of the work.
  • Get at least three bids, check references, and get a written contract.

The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. More information and publications about hiring contractors are available on the CSLB website or by calling 800-321-CSLB (2752). You can also sign up for CSLB email alerts. CSLB licenses and regulates California's 300,000 contractors, and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. In fiscal year 2010-11, CSLB helped recover nearly $45 million in ordered restitution for consumers.