Eleven Caught Diving Into Illegal Contracting
Unlicensed pool contractors among those busted during CSLB undercover operationSACRAMENTO — The Contractors State License Board’s (CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT), along with the Ventura County District Attorney’s and Sheriff’s offices, went after those working in the underground economy during a sting operation on August 26, 2010, in Camarillo.
SWIFT investigators posed as homeowners soliciting bids for exterior home improvement projects that included swimming pool repair, concrete, masonry, and painting. Those who bid more than $500 for the project found themselves in hot water. Roy Dale Dickerson, 59, of Westlake Village, was arrested on a prior warrant for contracting without a license. He was booked and released. He and the ten others received notices to appear in the court facility at 800 Victoria Avenue in Ventura on October 20 and 21, 2010, for contracting without a license during the sting. Some of them will face additional, related charges.
California Business and Professions (B&P) Code requires that home improvement jobs valued at $500 or more for labor and materials be undertaken by a state-licensed contractor. Ten of the eleven face charges of soliciting an excessive down payment or illegal advertising; some will be charged with both violations. B&P Code prohibits down payments greater than $1,000 or ten percent of the contract price, whichever is less. There is an exception for about two dozen contractors who purchase special consumer protection bonds that are noted on CSLB’s website. State law also requires contractors to put their license number in all forms of advertising. A person without a license may advertise and work on jobs valued at less than $500, but their ad must state that they are not a licensed contractor.
"In these difficult economic times, it’s more important than ever for consumers to be careful when hiring someone to work in or around their home," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "Many consumers don’t realize that if something goes wrong or mistakes are made, they can be liable for injuries to workers or damage to property."
To become licensed, a contractor must have at least four years of journey-level experience and pass two licensing exams. California law requires contractors to purchase a license bond and workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. Roofing contractors must also have workers’ comp coverage for themselves, even if they don’t have any employees.
CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips before hiring anyone to build, remodel or repair their homes:
- Be especially hesitant when approached by someone offering home improvement services door-to-door.
- Verify the contractor's license online at www.cslb.ca.gov, or via CSLB’s automated phone system at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752).
- Don't pay more than 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less. There is an exception to this rule for about two dozen contractors who purchase special bonds and are noted on CSLB’s website.
- Don't pay in cash, and don't let the payments get ahead of the work.
- Get at least three bids and insist on a written contract before your project begins.
- Contact CSLB if you have a complaint against a contractor.
The following were issued notices to appear during the sting:
BUSINESS AND CITY
Best Iron Design
|55||Ornamental Metal||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, soliciting excessive down payment|
|Ryan Jeffrey Schlottmann
|31||Pool and Spa Maintenance||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Manuel Barraza Guzman
M B Remodeling
|45||Painting||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, soliciting excessive down payment|
|John Clyde Herring
American Home Maintenance
|54||Concrete||Contracting without a license, soliciting excessive down payment|
|Shawn Robert Davis
Handyman in Your Neighborhood
|42||Painting||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, soliciting excessive down payment|
|Roy Dale Dickerson
West Lake Village
|59||Swimming Pool||Contracting without a license|
|Edward Rayfield Fontyn II
Fontyn’s Home Improvement
|45||Masonry||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|39||Painting||Contracting without a license, soliciting excessive down payment|
|44||Painting||Contracting without a license, soliciting excessive down payment|
|Ulrik Sebastian Hansen
|43||Pool and Spa Maintenance||Contracting without a license, soliciting excessive down payment|
|39||Concrete||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. More information and publications about hiring contractors are available on the CSLB website or by calling 800-321-CSLB (2752). You can also sign up for CSLB e-mail alerts at www.cslb.ca.gov. CSLB licenses and regulates California's more than 300,000 contractors, and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. In fiscal year 2009-10, CSLB helped recover nearly $42 million in ordered restitution for consumers.
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