Felony Conviction for Phony Contractor
Sentence handed down following Contractor's Board investigation and arrest
SACRAMENTO — A Modesto man has been found guilty of felony charges for pretending to be a licensed contractor following a Contractors State License Board (CSLB) investigation. The Stanislaus County District Attorney's office prosecution of the case resulted in Mark Steven Stalder entering pleas of no contest on Wednesday to a felony violation of Business and Professions Code Section 7027.3 (Fraudulent Use of a Contractor's License) and a misdemeanor violation of Business and Professions Code Section 7028(a) (Contracting without a License).
Mark Stalder presented a business card and other paperwork to a victim in 2005 using the license number of a legitimate contractor. Mr. Stalder has never held or applied for a license with CSLB. It wasn't until the project ran into problems that the homeowner checked CSLB's website (www.cslb.ca.gov) and discovered that Stalder was not licensed.
Experts later determined that it would cost about $25,000 to fix the errors caused by the phony contractor. By this time, the homeowner had already paid Mark Stalder over $121,000. The homeowner then filed a complaint with CSLB who turned their findings over to the Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office for prosecution.
The sentence Mark Stalder received this week was five years formal felony probation, ordered to be searchable for forged or fraudulent documents, pay restitution to the victim, not to contract without a license and serve 210 days in jail.
"Consumers must do their homework before hiring any contractor," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "Don't assume that if they give you a license number that it is their license." 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 via CSLB's automated phone service at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752).
When hiring any contractor:
- Get three bids, check references, and 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; 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 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.
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