Unlicensed Contractor Arrested and Charged with Extortion
State Contractors Board Assists in Arrest of Tulare County Convicted Felon
VISALIA — A man suspected of illegally filing liens against homeowners in the Visalia area is under arrest following action by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB). Wayne Tyson Girard was arrested in his home in Exeter today (Monday) by the Tulare County District Attorney's Office. Girard is an unlicensed contractor who operated under the name "Household Handyman." He is being charged with a number of crimes, including extortion, filing a false document, possession of a loaded handgun and contracting without a license. He is in Tulare County Jail on $500,000 bail.
The case began after the Better Business Bureau contacted the Tulare County District Attorney's Consumer Fraud Unit regarding complaints by local residents. They claimed Girard was filing mechanics liens against their property after they refused to pay him. The CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) was called in to assist in the investigation, which led to the serving of a search warrant today on Girard's house in Exeter.
Inside the house, investigators seized two computers and numerous prior contracts and other business records. They also found a loaded and stolen 9mm handgun. Girard is a convicted felon and not able to have a gun. Outside, investigators seized Girard's pickup truck, along with a 44-foot enclosed trailer filled with supplies, that investigators referred to as a "rolling hardware store."
The most serious charges against Girard is Extortion (Penal Code 524), which is defined as "every person who attempts, by means of any threat. to extort money or other property from another."
"This arrest goes to show that some people have no regard for the law," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "It's an important example of why homeowners need to make sure they hire only licensed contractors for their home improvement projects." By law, all contractors who perform work that totals $500 or more (labor and materials) must be licensed by the CSLB. Consumers can verify a contractor's license status 24 hours a day using the CSLB's website at www.cslb.ca.gov or toll-free automated telephone system at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752). They can also report contractors or unlicensed activity to the Board by phone or on the Web.
The CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips when dealing with a contractor:
- Hire only licensed contractors and ask to see the license
- Don't hire the first contractor who comes along
- Be especially hesitant when approached by someone offering home improvement services door-to-door, especially when they will use material they claim is left over from another job
- Don't rush into repairs, no matter how badly they're needed
- Verify the contractor's license at www.cslb.ca.gov or (800) 321-CSLB
- 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
- Get 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. The CSLB licenses and regulates California's 292,000 contractors, and investigates more than 20,000 complaints against contractors annually.
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