Contractors State Licensing Board Targets Repeat Offenders in Elk Grove Undercover Sting
Familiar faces who show up now face more serious charges
SACRAMENTO — Many of the unlicensed operators who are stung by the Contractors State License Board's (CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) turn around and either get their license or get out of the business. Unfortunately, a number of these phony contractors keep trying to take advantage of homeowners. These repeat offenders were a primary target of an undercover sting operation this week in Elk Grove.
The sting was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday with the support of the Elk Grove Police Department, Sacramento County District Attorney's Office and the Department of Insurance.
SWIFT members posed as homeowners and invited suspected unlicensed operators to the sting location to bid on various home improvement jobs ranging from landscaping and concrete to painting, installing a new heating and air conditioning system, flooring and window covering. A special focus was placed on individuals arrested in previous stings, complaints to the District Attorney's Office and suspicious newspaper advertisements. When the bids exceeded the legal limit of $500 (labor & materials), they were arrested.
Among the nine people arrested and taken to jail was Roy Thomas Pickering, who is no stranger to the CSLB. Pickering has been arrested by the CSLB three times since February for contracting without a license. Pickering showed up at this week's sting with another man, Timothy Glenn Kent, who is a licensed contractor (#733695). CSLB investigators determined that Kent was convicted in the past year of burglary. He was also wanted on two "No Bail" warrants from Placer County for Sexual Battery, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Assault with Intent to Commit Rape, False Imprisonment and Burglary.
"The CSLB is serious about going after people who break the law and put consumers in danger," said Steve Sands. "Repeat offenders need to know that we're watching them and will do everything we can to put them out of business. Homeowners need to know the huge risk they're taking when they let these phony contractors into their home."
19 others were arrested and released after signing a Notice to Appear (NTA) before a Sacramento County Superior Court judge next month to face misdemeanor charges. Those charges carry a maximum six months in jail and/or up to $1,000 fine.
In addition, a total of 15 vehicles were towed; nine from the people taken to jail. Six other vehicles were towed because the phony contractors were driving with either a suspended or revoked license.
"The success of this operation is due in big part to the cooperation we got from the Elk Grove Police Department," said David Fogt, CSLB's Chief of Enforcement. "We had seven different officers with us over the two days, plus great support from patrols in helping take suspects to jail and getting vehicles towed."
The CSLB urges homeowners to be careful before inviting any contractor into their house or agreeing to have any work done. Ask to see their state contractor's license pocket card and go online or call CSLB's automated phone system to verify that the license is valid. They can also check out the contractor's license history and get bond and personnel information. By law, a contractor's state license number must be included in any advertisements, or it must state that they are not licensed. Those people can only contract for jobs under $500.
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, especially when they will use material they claim is left over from another job;
- Verify the contractor's license by checking online or via CSLB's automated phone service at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752)
- Never 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; and
- Get three bids, check references, and a written contract
|Roy Thomas Pickering||Rancho Cordova||B&P Code 7028 - Contracting w/o a License|
|Timothy Glenn Kent||Elverta||Placer County Warrant #6253921|
|PC 243 Sexual Battery|
|PC 245A Assault with a Deadly Weapon|
|PC 220 Assault with Intent to Commit Rape|
|PC 459 Burglary (Two Counts)|
|PC 236 False Imprisonment|
|Placer County Warrant #6249507b|
|HS 11550a Unlawfully under the influence of a control substance|
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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