Unlicensed Contractors Arrested for Elder Abuse
PLACERVILLE, El Dorado County — As the result of a Contractors State License Board (CSLB) investigation, two unlicensed contractors were arrested on felony charges of elder financial abuse, grand theft, and conspiracy. Through a combined effort of the CSLB, El Dorado County District Attorney and the El Dorado County sheriff's office, Jesse Thomas Moore III and Randy Joe Freeman were arrested. Their bail was set at $100,000. A third suspect, Christine Ann Moore, is still at large.
The suspects allegedly approached two elderly victims, offering to perform unlicensed contracting work in exchange for a down payment on a parcel of land the victims offered for sale. The Moores and Freeman lived in a trailer owned by the victims and stayed on the property while they worked. The victims paid the suspects nearly $16,000 for labor and materials for incomplete and improper work. The suspects never obtained the necessary building permits. The suspects destroyed the victims' trailer, and then filed a lien against the victims in the amount of $65,000 in a failed attempt to extort more money.
The estimate to complete and correct these phony contractors' shoddy work is nearly $85,000. The victims' total loss on this project is approximately $107,000.
"Unfortunately, there are scam artists out there who take advantage of elderly citizens. Senior homeowners can avoid problems with unscrupulous contractors by being aware of their rights and responsibilities," said Registrar Steve Sands.
The CSLB urges all consumers to follow these tips when hiring a contractor:
- Hire only licensed contractors
- Check the license with the CSLB at www.cslb.ca.gov or (800) 321-CSLB
- Get at least three bids and check references
- Get a written contract, and don't sign it until you understand the terms
- Don't pay more than 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment
- Don't pay cash and don't let the payments get ahead of the work.
The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The CSLB licenses and regulates California's 278,000 contractors, and investigates 25,000 complaints against contractors annually.
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