Asphalt Scheme Perpetrators Sentenced In Napa County
Consumers get money back thanks to DA and State Contractors Board
SACRAMENTO — A trio of bogus paving installers have been placed on probation, ordered to make restitution to their victims and not to contract in the State of California. The Contractors State License Board's (CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) tracked and observed suspects John Joseph Burke, Harry Edward Gallagher and Daniel H. Linzy performing bogus asphalt paving work at a number of locations around Napa County in June 2004.
The installations included overlays of existing driveways and pavement of new driveways. The basic guise used by the suspects was to say they had some hot asphalt available at a good price because they couldn't use it at another location. They also made false claims about being contractors, about the company they worked for, and what kind of work they would provide. In several instances, the suspects gave one initial price, started the work, and then claimed they needed to order additional materials to complete the job at a much higher price.
Inspections conducted by a CSLB Industry Expert and a local contractor determined that the work performed by the suspects was defective. During the course of the investigation, additional victims were found in Sacramento, Contra Costa, and Sonoma and Humboldt counties.
As a result of the investigation, the Napa County District Attorney's office filed a criminal complaint against the suspects for violations of PC 368(d) (7 counts) and B&P 7028. Burke, Gallagher, and Linzy were convicted of three counts of elder abuse (PC 368(d), and one count of contracting without a license (B&P 7028). The trio plead no contest and were placed on two years summary probation, and will not be allowed to contract within the state of California.
In addition to the standard terms and conditions of probation, they were ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $104,273.00 to ten victims in five counties in Napa, Sonoma, Contra Costa, Sacramento and Humboldt. They did make those payments and on August 4, 2006, the Napa District Attorney's office mailed restitution checks to the victims.
"The Napa County District Attorney's office has really taken an active stance in protecting the public from unlicensed contractors," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "Cases like this also highlight the importance of not hiring someone who seeks you out with what seems like a fantastic deal."
Before hiring any contractor, homeowners should go online at www.cslb.ca.gov or call CSLB's automated phone system 1-800-321-CSLB (2752) to verify that he/she holds a valid license. Ask to see the contractors "pocket license" then compare that to another form of ID like a driver's license.
The CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips when dealing with a building contractor:
- Hire only licensed contractors and ask to see the license;
- Don't rush into decisions and don't hire the first contractor who comes along;
- Be especially hesitant when approached by someone offering home improvement services door-to-door;
- Don't pay more than 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less;
- Don't pay cash, and don't let the payments get ahead of the work;
- Get three bids, check references, and a written contract; and
- Contact the CSLB if you have a complaint against a contractor
The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The CSLB licenses and regulates California's 302,000 contractors, and investigates more than 20,000 complaints against contractors annually. In fiscal year 2005-06, the CSLB helped consumers get more than $36 million in restitution.
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