Pool Contractor Guilty Of Felony Violations
Surrenders Contractors License
SAN BERNARDINO — A Contractors State License Board (CSLB) investigation prompted a San Bernardino County Superior Court judge to order jail time and restitution for a local swimming pool and landscape contractor. Additionally, Curtis Custom Pools owner Curtis Michael Malins was ordered to surrender his contractor's license by August 1. Malins, who was found guilty on three felony counts of diversion of construction funds, was ordered to serve one year in county jail and five years of supervised probation, to surrender his contractor's license, and to pay restitution to his victims. A restitution hearing is scheduled for October 25, 2001.
The CSLB alleges Curtis Custom Pools victimized over a dozen consumers and committed multiple contractor law violations, including job abandonment, poor workmanship, taking funds in excess of work performed (frontloading), failure to pay subcontractors, and misuse of funds or failure to account for funds. Complaints against Curtis Custom Pools generated from homeowners in San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, and Los Angeles counties.
Many complaints against swimming pool contractors - including those against Curtis Custom Pools -- include the illegal practice of "frontloading," which involves taking payments in excess of work completed. That means homeowners pay up-front for work that has not been completed. Violations of this law could result in disciplinary action against the contractors, such as the levy of a fine or the suspension or revocation of the contractor's license.
"Homeowners, by law, should pay for swimming pool work only as it is completed. If your contractor insists that you pay up-front, that is a red flag that something is wrong. Contact the CSLB to check a contractor's license and to learn more about your consumer rights," said Stephen P. Sands, Registrar of the Contractors State License Board.
The CSLB urges homeowners to follow these tips when hiring any contractor:
- Hire only licensed contractors
- Check the contractor's license with CSLB at www.cslb.ca.gov or (800) 321-CSLB
- Get at least three bids and check references
- Get a written contract
- Pay 2 percent down or $200, whichever is less, for a swimming pool contract
- Don't let payments get ahead of the work
- Don't pay cash
- Keep a job file of all papers.
The CSLB, which operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs, licenses 278,000 contractors in California and investigates 25,000 complaints against licensed and unlicensed contractors every year.
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