Contractor's Board Nabs One of their Most Wanted Suspects
Suspect has eight years worth of complaints on record
SACRAMENTO — Patience and good old fashioned investigative work paid off when the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) teamed up with the Tustin Police Department to arrest an unlicensed contractor on a $50,000 felony warrant.
Enrique Reyes has a long record of dozens of citations and complaints going back to 1998 around Orange County. He also has a long record of never paying off fines and skirting the law while continuing to operate illegally. He was arrested Wednesday (August 16) on a felony warrant for 7 counts of grand theft, 2 counts of contracting without a license and 2 counts of using someone else's license. His record with the board includes: $89,500 in unpaid civil fines and 18 citations.
He had recently applied for a contractor's license under a different name which was caught by Contractor's Board staff. He was invited to the CSLB office to discuss the application, but didn't show up. Investigators went to his house where they followed a truck registered to Mr. Reyes. It led them to yet another landscaping job site where he had workers waiting for him. He was arrested and booked into the main Orange County jail.
"Home owners need to be an active part of the complaint and investigative process," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "Alert consumers can help slow down these illegal operators who will prey upon others."
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
First-time convictions carry a maximum of six months in jail or a $1,000 fine. A following violation carries a mandatory 90-days incarceration plus fines that equal 20% of the work value or $4,500. Other civil and criminal convictions like Identity theft can increase the penalties.
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 2004-05, the CSLB helped consumers get more than $36 million in restitution.
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