Contractors State License Board Sting in Woodland Snares a Dozen Illegal Operators
Man wanted for rape among those caught in joint operation
SACRAMENTO — Illegal operators who showed up at a sting house in Woodland were swept up by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) for unlicensed activity. Members of the CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) posed as homeowners and invited suspected unlicensed contractors to bid on various home improvement projects. The enforcement action was done on February 14 in partnership with the Yolo County District Attorney's Office, the Yolo County Sheriff, The Department of Insurance and the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.
During Thursday's sting, 12 operators were given a "Notice to Appear" (NTA) in Yolo County Superior Court in about one month for misdemeanor charges of contracting without a license, and advertising violations. 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.
One licensed contractor was cited for aiding and abetting an unlicensed operator. (Business and Professions Code 7114). There were three citations for contractors operating without workers compensation insurance, six for violations of child labor laws and three for cash payment of wages. Another suspect, Pedro Lopez, was arrested when it was discovered during a background check that he had an outstanding felony warrant for rape. He was booked into the Yolo county jail and was held pending $100,000 bail.
By law, all contractors who perform work that totals $500 or more (labor and materials) must be licensed by the CSLB. "Communities like Woodland and Yolo County are taking the lead in protecting their citizens from dangerous unlicensed operators." said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "Homeowners may think they are saving money by hiring someone who is unlicensed. But you never know what kind of individuals you are inviting into your home and what their real motives are."
The CSLB conducts sting operations on an almost weekly basis, to highlight the dangers to consumers who hire unlicensed workers, and to educate unlicensed workers about California laws. In this operation, investigators were targeting repeat offenders, subjects of complaints and blatant violators of advertising law. Contractors need to say if they are unlicensed or have their license number on their ad if they hold a valid California contractors license.
Before hiring any contractor, homeowners should go online or call CSLB's automated phone system to verify that he/she holds a valid license. They can also check out the contractor's license history and get bond and personnel information.
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)
- 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 314,000 contractors, and investigates more than 20,000 complaints against contractors annually. In fiscal year 2006-07, the CSLB obtained nearly $45 million in ordered restitution for consumers.
|NAME||AGE||CITY OF RESIDENCE||VIOLATIONS|
|Richard Vega||36||Sacramento||7028, 7027.1|
|Diego Mariscal||21||Davis||7028, 7027.1|
|Juan Esquivel||38||Antelope||7028, 7027.1|
|Demyan Irichek||27||Sacramento||7028. 7027.1|
|Jose Avila||35||Sacramento||7028, 7027.1|
|Ruben Madera||39||Woodland||7028, 7027.1|
|Oscar Flores||36||North Highlands||7028.7, 7027.1|
|Miguel Mondragon||47||Fairfield||7028, 7027.1|
|Pedro Lopez||42||Sacramento||7028, 7027.1
Arrested on Warrant
Business and Professions Code: 7028: Contracting Without License, 7027.1: Illegal Advertising.
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