CSLB Press Release - 04/04/13
Two SoCal Men Added to CSLB’s Most Wanted List, One Arrested in Fresno
Online list warns consumers about worst unlicensed violators
SACRAMENTO —The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) has just added two men who have bilked San Diego County residents of well over $100,000 to its Most Wanted list, hoping that each will be located and taken into custody before victimizing anyone else.
The first suspect is Ronald Wayne Holland, of Bonita. Holland, doing business as Center Line Design, has been cited and convicted for illegal contracting on nine previous occasions. He currently is being sought by authorities on a $25,000 San Diego County arrest warrant that stems from numerous consumer complaints about illegally large down payments ($21,000 in one case) and for substandard and incomplete contracting work.
The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office has filed felony charges against Holland for grand theft, and misdemeanor violations of diversion of funds, contracting without a license, and soliciting illegally large down payments.
According to prosecutors, Holland typically preys on homeowners interested in swimming pool and landscaping projects. Holland promises “great deals,” then takes excessive down payments, and rents heavy construction equipment in the customer’s name. The equipment is then left behind, building up back rent charges for unsuspecting homeowners that result in financial liens being filed against them.
Holland currently is on probation from previous unlicensed contracting activities. In one case, Holland owes a homeowner $100,000 in restitution.
NEW INFORMATION: On May 21, 2013, Holland was arrested in Sacramento. He will now face charges in San Diego County.
A $50,000 arrest warrant has been issued for the other suspect added to CSLB’s Most Wanted list: Alex Pike Mitchell, of Perris. He operates as Mitchell’s Blacktop Service, and is known to target his victims in rural parts of San Diego County.
Investigators say Mitchell targets homeowners with long, asphalt driveways that lead to their homes, tells them he is working on jobs in the area, and has left-over paving material he can use for their driveway.
Mitchell then writes a contract and collects down payments of $1,000 to $2,500, but never shows up to do the work. Mitchell has been convicted on seven previous occasions for contracting without a license. His arrest warrant includes five counts of grand theft, diversion of funds, and two counts of elder abuse.
NEW INFORMATION: Mitchell, who has a number of prior convictions for contracting without a license, has new convictions against him, and pending cases in other counties.
On June 17, 2013, Mitchell pled guilty to two felony counts of grand theft (Penal Code §487a) in San Diego County Superior Court and agreed to pay victim restitution. He remains free on bail pending sentencing on January 13, 2014. He faces up to one year behind bars.
Mitchell also faces 22 counts in a case being prosecuted in Santa Cruz County. The charges include five felony counts of Obtaining Money, Labor or Property by False Pretenses (Penal Code §532a); one felony count of First Degree Burglary (Penal Code §459); six misdemeanor counts of Contracting without a License (Business and Professions Code §7028); five counts of Requiring an Excessive Down Payment (Business and Professions Code §7159.5); and four counts of Failure to Secure Workers’ Compensation Insurance (Labor Code §3700.5).
Complaints indicate that Mitchell targets homeowners with long asphalt driveways, tells them he is working in the area and has leftover paving material at a good price, writes a contract and collects down payments of $1,000 to $2,500, and then never returns to do the work.
While there is no current arrest warrant for Mitchell, he remains on CSLB’s Most Wanted list while he’s free, to warn consumers in the event he continues illegal contracting and theft.
These CSLB Most Wanted additions come one day after another suspect on the list was taken into custody.
James Lewis Cunningham was arrested on April 3, 2013, by the Fresno division of the Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force and Fresno County Sherriff’s Office. The arrest was made after authorities received a tip.
Cunningham is suspected of using a legitimate contractor's license number to contract for an interior paint and repair project at a residence that was to be flipped by a funding company in the Visalia area.
Due to his prior criminal history, a $100,000 arrest warrant for Cunningham was issued on January 15, 2013.
NEW INFORMATION: On May 23, 2013, Cunningham was sentenced to 32 months in state prison after agreeing to a plea deal. Cunningham pled guilty to one felony charge of fraudulent use of a contractor's license not issued to him (Business and Professions Code section 7027.3), and misdemeanor counts of contracting without a license (Business and Professions Code section 7028(a)), no workers' compensation insurance (Labor Code section 3700.5), and illegal advertising (Business and Professions Code section 7027.1(a)). He must also pay $7,400 in restitution to his victims. With credit for the almost two months he served in county jail, Mitchell should be released in late 2015.
Individuals included on CSLB’s Most Wanted list have been identified as some of the worst unlicensed violators and are known to prey on vulnerable and unsuspecting homeowners. Complaints against these individuals have been lodged with CSLB, law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors’ offices around the state, and warrants have been issued for the arrest of those who appear on this list.
Anyone who knows the whereabouts of a person on the CSLB Most Wanted list can contact their local police or sheriff's department. After contacting local law enforcement, call CSLB at (916) 255-2924 for Northern California; (559) 445-5583 for Central California or (562) 345-7600 for Southern California.
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, and that there is workers’ compensation insurance coverage for employees.
- 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 2011-12, CSLB helped recover nearly $36 million in ordered restitution for consumers.