Unlicensed Contractor Gets Prison Time After Sting And Guilty Plea In Mariposa County
SACRAMENTO — A Mariposa County man who was posing as a licensed contractor faces prison time and additional charges of identity theft following an investigation by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB).
CSLB investigators decided to set up a sting operation after checking out a consumer complaint against the man in the Lake Don Pedro area for shoddy and incomplete work. Michael Angelo Poe II was arrested during an operation that was conducted by CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) in cooperation with the Mariposa County Sheriff's Department and the Mariposa County District Attorney's office.
SWIFT members posed as homeowners and received a bid of $7300 for paving work. By law, all contractors who perform work that totals $500 or more (labor and materials) must be licensed by the CSLB. He also represented himself as a licensed contractor, using a number, without permission, that belonged to his Father. Fraudulent use of someone's license number is punishable as a felony.
Mr. Poe pled guilty this week to two felony charges for illegal use of a contractor's license number. He was sentenced to 2 years and 8 months in State prison and must pay restitution of $3,386. to the homeowners. "We hope this sends a message to unlicensed contractors," said Mariposa County District Attorney Robert Brown, "This kind of activity will not be tolerated here." Mr. Poe now faces identity theft charges in Merced.
"Rural communities are not immune to the problems posed by illegal operators" said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands, "You should always check to see if the contractor is licensed and make sure they are who they say they are. Caution and a little homework will protect you and your investments."
The CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips when hiring any contractor:
- Hire only licensed contractors
- Verify the contractor's license with the CSLB at www.cslb.ca.gov
- Don't be rushed or pressured into making a decision to hire a contractor
- Get a written contract
- Do not pay more than 10 percent down or $1,000, whichever is less
- Do not let payments get ahead of the work
- Get three bids and check references
- Do not pay cash
Consumers can verify a contractor's license status 24 hours a day using the CSLB's Web site at www.cslb.ca.gov or toll-free automated telephone system at (800) 321-CSLB (2752). They can also download or order helpful publications, such as "What You Should Know Before You Hire A Contractor," free of charge. You can also report contractors or unlicensed activity to the Board by phone or on the Web.
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 more than 20,000 complaints against contractors annually.
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