Tulare County Construction Fraud Suspects Rounded Up in Contractors State License Board Sting
More than a thirty local people caught in large undercover operation
SACRAMENTO — Contractors State License Board (CSLB) and partners from the Tulare District Attorney's Office caught 32 suspects in undercover sting operations that took place in central Visalia and on West League Street in Tulare on December 5-6, 2007. The team of 16 law enforcement specialists also conducted sweeps of 27 construction sites to verify contractor's licenses and insurance.
Members of CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) posed as homeowners at the two sting houses and invited suspects to bid on projects that included: fencing, painting, tree trimming and landscaping. When the suspects bid over $500 on a job they were arrested and cited. California law requires a state contractor's license for home improvement jobs that are valued at $500 or more in supplies and labor.
"Homeowners should know that using unlicensed operators may end up costing them," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "It is not unusual for these individuals to have other run-ins with the law and may not be qualified to do the work they are hired for."
Unlicensed operators are part of a multi-billion dollar underground economy that takes jobs away from legitimate contractors, and tax dollars from schools, roads and law enforcement. Illegal operators rarely have workers' compensation or liability insurance. Homeowners have little recourse if something goes wrong with an unlicensed operator.
The people who were issued criminal citations are scheduled to appear in Tulare Superior Court in Tulare on January 30. One individual, Gabriel Vasquez of "Gabe's Roofing" was arrested for using someone else's contractor's license. He was booked into Tulare County Jail for the offense, which is a felony.
Unlicensed operator suspects cited for unlicensed activity and/or illegal advertising:
|NAME||AGE||CITY OF RESIDENCE||COMPANY|
|Robin Simmons||49||Exeter||Rob Simmons Handyman|
|David Hobson||40||Exeter||Rob Simmons Handyman|
|Jose Navarro||40||Tulare||Navarro's Air Conditioning|
|Timothy Baca||27||Tulare||Tim's General Maintenance|
|Jose Juarez||31||Tulare||JJ's Painting|
|Daniel Torres||50||Visalia||Daniel's Yard Service|
|Chase Taylor||34||Visalia||Tool Time Taylor|
|Armado Lopez||27||Selma||Surve's Concrete|
|Servano Lopez||25||Selma||Surve's Concrete|
|Rufino Perez||35||Visalia||Rufino's Garden Service|
|Vance Cline||45||Hanford||Cline's Landscape|
|Danny Trujillo||48||Ivanhoe||Unique Services|
|Raul Mendez||38||Porterville||Mendez Landscaping|
|Albert Andradez||37||Visalia||Santa Barbara Handyman|
|Mathew Ball||27||Visalia||Ball's Installs|
|Paul Blair||37||Visalia||Blair Construction|
|Armando Ocequeda||38||Goshen||Christian Guy Painting|
|David Spoon||55||Porterville||David Spoon Painting|
|Rudy Castillo||41||Visalia||Castillo's Lawn & Garden|
|Andres Roja||34||Ivanhoe||Colin's Fence|
|Jesus Anglo||19||Ivanhoe||Colin's Fence|
|Kevin Egger||50||Exeter||Swiss Handyman|
|Joe Garcia||36||Strathmore||JB Handyman|
|Pete Miramontes||42||Lemore||JB Handyman|
|Juan Pena||50||Visalia||Juan Pena Painting|
|Feliciano Degadillo||50||Visalia||Degadillo Handyman|
|Gabriel Vasquez||42||Visalia||Gabe's Roofing|
|David Faguendes||44||Hanford||All Floors/All Tiles|
|Bart Buhlert||53||Porterville||Expert Tree Service|
|Ronald Stafford||43||Visalia||Ron's General Repair|
|Joel Espinoza||40||Farmersville||Cement by Joel|
|Nafetala Kauvaka||33||Tulare||Kauvaka Construction|
|Ronald McDowell||na||Visalia||McDowell Construction|
The CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips when hiring a contractor:
- Be especially hesitant when approached by someone offering home improvement services door to door.
- Verify the contractor's license by checking online or via CSLB's automated phone service at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752)
- 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.
- Check references; get three bids and a written contract.
- 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 314,000 contractors, and investigates more than 20,000 complaints against contractors annually. In fiscal year 2006-07, the CSLB helped consumers get almost $45 million restitution.
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