Illegal Pool-Related Operators Wind up in Hot Water in Contractors State License Board Sting
More than two dozen local people cited in Newport Beach operation
SACRAMENTO — They were expecting easy money, but ended up with citations instead from the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) during an under cover sting operation in Newport Beach. Members of CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT), in cooperation with the Newport Beach Police Department, posed as homeowners looking for swimming pool related contractors on Friday and Saturday, September 28 and 29.
Suspects invited to the sting were chosen from tips, illegal ads and previous complaints to the CSLB. Anyone doing contracting work in California on jobs valued at $500 or more on a job must have a state contractor's license. Contractor's salespeople must also be registered with the CSLB if they are negotiating contracts on behalf of a licensed contractor. When the suspects bid over $500 on projects at the sting house ranging from re-plastering, safety fencing, covers, spa installation, pool remodels they were given a Notice to Appear (NTA) in Orange County Superior Court on December 4 or 5 to answer the misdemeanor charges. 26 NTAs were handed out during the two day period and a couple of licensees were cited for using an incorrect name or canceled license.
"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. You stand a much better chance with licensed contractors." To get a license, contractors must prove atleast four years of experience, be tested for knowledge of their trade and business laws, undergo a background check and are required to post a $12,500 surety bond.
Unlicensed operators are part of a multi-billion dollar underground economy in California that takes jobs away from legitimate contractors, and tax dollars from schools, roads and law enforcement. Illegal operators rarely if ever have workers' compensation or liability insurance. Homeowners have little recourse if something goes wrong with an unlicensed operator.
The CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips as well:
- 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 312,000 contractors, and investigates more than 21,000 complaints against contractors annually. In fiscal year 2006-07, the CSLB helped consumers get almost $45 million in ordered restitution.
Unlicensed Operator Suspects Cited for Unlicensed Activity
|NAME||AGE||CITY OF RESIDENCE||B & P CODE VIOLATION|
|Jose Moreno||35||Garden Grove||7027.1 & 7028(a)|
|Tod Curry - Pool sub.com||52||Newport Beach||7027.1 & 7028(a)|
|Ramiro Martinez||43||Anaheim||7027.1 & 7028(a)|
|Steven Kinglsey||48||Garden Grove||7027.1 & 7028(a)|
|Dennis Baier||65||Peoria, Arizona||7153|
|Timothy Toohey - Guardian Removable Pool Fences||37||Laguna Hills||7027.1 & 7028(a)|
|Daniel Hesketh - HandyDan||41||Huntington Beach||7027.1 & 7028(a)|
|John Hawks - Sun Bright Pools||49||Laguna Hills||7027.1 & 7028(a)|
|Pedro Mendoza - J & P Masonry||31||Anaheim||7027.1 & 7028(a)|
|Juan Torres J & P Masonry||33||Ontario||7027.1 & 7028(a)|
|Daniel Garcia - Danco Electric||29||Lake Forest||7027.1 & 7028(a)|
|Francisco Guirino, Ramon Paint||51||Irvine||7027.1 & 7028(a)|
|Debra Underberg||56||Phoenix, Arizona||7153|
|Raymond Hinnant||36||Aliso Viejo||7027.1 & 7028(a)|
|Valdermar Vazaquez||33||Santa Ana||7027.1 & 7028(a)|
|Esteban Lopez||40||Santa Ana||7027.1 & 7028(a)|
|John Lyman||40||Huntington Beach||7027.1 & 7028(a)|
|Daniel Hajjar||47||Covina||7027.1 & 7028(a)|
|Antonio Lopez||43||Garden Grove||7027.1 & 7028(a)|
|Servando Monroy||23||Fontana||7027.1 & 7028(a)|
|Santos Chavez||38||Anaheim||7027.1 & 7028(a)|
|Inoke Malupo||49||Anaheim||7027.1 & 7028(a)|
|John Godinez||68||Garden Grove||7027.1|
|Daniel Griego||50||Santa Ana||7027.1, 7027.3 & 7028(a)|
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