Illegal Operators Rounded Up in Central Coast Contractors State License Board Sting
More than a dozen local people cited in undercover operationSACRAMENTO — They came from all over the Central Coast to a house in Pacific Grove looking for easy money, but instead found them selves in the middle of a Contractors State License Board (CSLB) sting. The operation was held in cooperation with the Monterey County District Attorney's office and the California Department of Insurance to educate and warn consumers about the dangers of unlicensed contractor activity.
Members of CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) posed as homeowners at the undisclosed location on Thursday September 6 and invited suspects to bid on projects that included: fencing, painting, tree trimming and landscaping. When they bid over $500 on a job they were cited. California law requires a state contractor's license for home improvement jobs that are valued at more than $500 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.
14 people in the Pacific Grove operation were issued with a Notice to Appear (NTA) for contracting without a license, two were cited for illegal advertising, one licensee was cited for trying to work with an expired license, two suspects had expired driver's licenses and one had a stolen license plate tag on their car. The citied individuals were given a date to show up in Monterey County Superior Court along with an application to apply for a state contractors license.
The CSLB also 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 at www.cslb.ca.gov; 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.
Unlicensed Operator Suspects Cited for Unlicensed Activity
|Name||Age||City of Residence||Licensing Classification|
|Dwayne Bowers||53||Marina||C-33 Painting & Decorating|
|Vincent Taddeo||45||Pebble Beach||C-13 Fencing|
|Donald Waye Baze Jr.||37||Gonzales||C-13|
|Timothy Glen Stannard||46||Carmel Valley||C-13|
|Jose Duarte||44||Castro Valley||C-27 Landscaping|
|Jose Rosenoiz Nietu||42||Castroville||C-33|
|James Hoagland||54||Santa Cruz||C-33|
The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The CSLB licenses and regulates California's 310,000 contractors, and investigates more than 20,000 complaints against contractors annually. In fiscal year 2006-07, the CSLB helped consumers get almost $45 million in restitution.
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