CSLB Targets Illegal Operators and Owner-Builder Projects in Lodi Enforcement Operations
Sweep and Sting Net Unlicensed and Deceitful Contractors
LODI — The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is announcing the first results of a new crackdown on contractors who talk consumers into listing their home improvement projects with building departments as "owner-builder" projects. Consumers who request, or "pull", a building permit may not know that they are adding personal risk and responsibility to their project.
When homeowners classify themselves as an owner-builder on building department documents, they become responsible for employee protections, such as workers' compensation and liability insurances, as well as adding subcontractor responsibilities, such as mechanic's liens.
Teaming with the Lodi Police and Building departments, CSLB's Enforcement division conducted a sweep last week at 36 different locations where owner-builder permits had been pulled. At those sites, two administrative citations were issued for contracting without a license; three licensed contractors with employees were found to be operating without workers' compensation insurance; one warning letter was issued for contracting without a license; and minor violations were noted or investigations opened in four other cases.
Yesterday, members of CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) teamed with the Lodi Police Department and the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Insurance Fraud Unit to conduct an undercover sting operation that resulted in multiple citations and one felony drug arrest.
Fifteen suspected unlicensed operators were invited to a house to provide a bid for home improvement jobs. Those jobs ranged from painting and drywall to electrical and landscaping work. California law requires a state contractor's license for home improvement jobs that are valued at $500 or more in supplies and labor.
When 11 of the contractors bid over $500 on a job, they were arrested and given a "Notice to Appear" (NTA) in San Joaquin County Superior Court to face misdemeanor charges. The charges carry a maximum of six months in jail or a $1,000 fine for the first offense. A second violation carries a mandatory 90-day jail sentence.
In addition, 10 administrative citations were issued to unlicensed operators, along with 4 citations to licensed contractors, 2 unlicensed warnings, and one warning to a licensed contractor.
Unlicensed Operator Citations
|NAME||RESULT||BUSINESS & PROFESSIONS CODE VIOLATIONS|
|Richard Rios||NTA and Citation||7028|
|Sanson Munoz Crespo||NTA and Citation||7027.1 & 7028|
|Scotty Joe McAninch||NTA and Citation||7028|
|Robert Lee Muller||NTA and Citation||7027.1 & 7028|
|Ryan Colin Tagney||NTA and Citation||7028|
|Kenny B. Buchmiller||NTA and Citation||7027.1 & 7028|
|Jose Luis Gutierrez Arciga||NTA and Citation||7027.1 & 7028|
|Russell Leroy Meidinger||NTA and Citation||7028|
|Jerry Lee Ray||NTA and Citation||7027.1 & 7028|
|Iram Bazalqua Trejo||NTA||7028|
|German C. Lizaola||NTA||7028|
|Manuel Humberta Del Bosque||Citation||7028 & 7154|
Licensee Administrative Citations
|NAME||LICENSE #||BUSINESS & PROFESSIONS CODE VIOLATIONS|
|Morfin's Tile & Granite||872002||7153 & 7125.2|
|R L M Construction||581391||7117 & 7114|
In the weeks ahead, CSLB will continue to partner with local, state and other government agencies to conduct enforcement stings and sweeps related to owner-builder permits throughout California.
The CSLB also urges consumers to follow these tips as well:
- 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)
- 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.
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.
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