State Contractors Board Arrests Unlicensed Landscaper for Second Time in Two Months
Suspect caught in the act just six weeks after release from jail.
SACRAMENTO — For the second time in two months, a man suspected of ripping off at a number of Sacramento area homeowners, including an elderly Elk Grove couple, is behind bars following action by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB). Sangato Mahei Telai was arrested Wednesday at a job site in Elk Grove.
Telai is an unlicensed landscape contractor with addresses in Stockton and East Palo Alto. CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) previously arrested him on March 2, 2005. Telai plead guilty to charges of operating without a contractor's license. He was fined, sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years informal probation. Telai was released from Sacramento County Jail on March 31st.
This past Tuesday, CSLB investigators were tipped that Telai may be back at work in the Elk Grove area. After learning that Telai had a number of no bail warrants, including Assault with a Deadly Weapon, the CSLB and Elk Grove police officers went to a home where it was believed Telai was working. Telai and five of his employees were working in the backyard, where Telai was arrested without incident. CSLB investigators are in the process of identifying other potential victims.
"This arrest goes to show that some people have no regard for the law," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "It's an unfortunate, but 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. Because many unlicensed operators don't comply with the workers compensation laws, they often submit lower bids on jobs. But, if one of their workers is injured on the job, the homeowner could be considered liable. And, if a deal goes bad with an unlicensed contractor, the homeowner has very few options.
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 280,000 contractors, and investigates more than 20,000 complaints against contractors annually.
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