Felony Charges for Man Who Abandoned Returning Soldier's Remodel
Unlicensed contractor arrested in notorious Inland Empire case
SACRAMENTO — A Redlands man — and unlicensed contractor — who abandoned a remodeling project he had begun for the family of a solider stationed in Iraq has been arrested on felony charges following an investigation by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB). Timothy Shaeffer, owner of Redlands-based Dynamic Design Systems, was served with a warrant and arrested today, shortly after driving away from his home by officers from the California Department of Justice.
He reportedly took about $85,000 to remodel the 2,000-square-foot Highland home about one year ago. The family of National Guard Master Sergeant Joe Mendoza was unable to live in their home after it was gutted for reconstruction and made uninhabitable. The Mendozas had been living in a motel until the career military man returned home on leave a couple of weeks ago.
The San Bernardino County District Attorney's office filed the charges following a CSLB investigation that determined Shaeffer was contracting without a license. The charges include Penal Code (PC) Section 487(a) - grand theft of personal property with an enhancement, and PC Section 12022.6(a)(1) 484(b) - diversion of construction funds. Bail was set at $100,000. Schaeffer, who was transported to the San Bernardino County Jail, has two previous citations on record for contracting without a license.
Anyone offering contracting work in California on projects that are valued at $500 or more in materials and labor must be licensed by the CSLB. A first citation is usually a misdemeanor, carrying a potential fine of $500, plus administrative fines of up to $15,000 and up to six months in jail. The penalties are increased with subsequent violations that can result in a jail sentence of no less than 90 days and a $4500 fine or 20% of the work contract price.
"Consumers must do their homework before hiring any contractor," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "Don't assume a contractor is licensed and don't pay cash up front." Consumers should ask to see the contractor's plastic pocket license and photo identification, and then verify the information. They can also check out the contractor's license history and get bond and personnel information by checking online at www.cslb.ca.gov or through CSLB's automated phone service at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752).
Also when hiring any contractor:
- Get three bids, check references, and get a written contract;
- Never pay more than 10% or $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment;
- Don't pay cash, and don't let the payments get ahead of the work;
- Contact the CSLB if you have a complaint against a contractor;
- Be especially hesitant when anyone offers 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)
- Make sure all workers are covered by workers' compensation insurance.
The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The CSLB licenses and regulates California's 315,000 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.
Sign Up For News Release Email Alerts
Please type in your email below and click submit.