CSLB Investigators Alerted to Sting Target by Local Building Officials
Unlicensed operator among 16 busted in undercover operation
SACRAMENTO —Enforcement representatives from the Contractors State License Board's (CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) acted on a tip from city of Lincoln building officials to catch an unlicensed contractor suspected of illegally operating in Placer County. While pulling permits for building and repair projects at the city building department, local licensed contractors voiced concerns that David Alan Ledford, 35, of Lincoln, was contracting without a license.
During a sting at Sun City Lincoln Hills on January 26, 2010, investigators invited Ledford to submit a bid. When he did, he received a notice to appear (NTA) in court for contracting without a license and illegal advertising, and an administrative citation for illegal advertising and fraudulent use of a contractor license number not issued to him. Illegally using another person's license number is punishable by up to $10,000 in fines.
Ledford was one of 12 suspects who received NTAs for contracting without a license. Eleven of those suspects will also answer to charges of illegal advertising. Ledford and three others also received administrative citations for contracting without a license. Two of those citations included advertising violations. California Business & Professions (B&P) Code requires contractors to be state-licensed for home improvement work valued at more than $500 for combined labor and material costs. B&P Code also requires contractors to put their license number in all advertisements. Those without licenses may do jobs valued at less than $500, but they must state that they are not licensed contractors in all of their advertisements.
During the undercover operation, investigators solicited bids for home improvement projects including landscaping, fencing, interior and exterior painting, flooring, tile, and cabinet work. SWIFT was assisted by the Amador and Placer County District Attorney's Offices and the Lincoln Police Department during the operation. Those who received NTAs have court appearances on March 23, 2010, at the Bill Santucci Justice Center at 10820 Justice Center Drive in Roseville.
"CSLB is excited that the Board's relationship with the Lincoln Development Services Department and its building officials helped investigators locate and hold accountable an unlicensed operator," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "CSLB values its relationships with local governments and law enforcement agencies throughout the state that will help ensure continued success in combating unlicensed, unlawful activity."
Building officials only grant permits to state-licensed contractors. Consumers should be wary that any rebuilding, remodeling, or installation project requiring a permit might not meet the safety or energy efficiency standards required by state law, and could potentially put them and their families at risk. Licensed contractors are also required to carry workers' compensation insurance for all employees (and themselves if they are C-39 roofers) and a $12,500 contractor license bond to ensure consumer protection.
CSLB provides many helpful consumer publications that can be downloaded or ordered from the Web site www.CheckTheLicenseFirst.com or www.cslb.ca.gov, or by calling, toll-free 1-800-321-CSLB (2752).
CSLB urges consumers to remember the following tips when hiring a contractor:
- Be especially hesitant when approached by someone offering home improvement services door-to-door.
- Verify the contractor's license by checking online at www.cslb.ca.gov, or via CSLB's automated phone system at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752), and ask to see a photo identification to make sure you're dealing with the correct person.
- Don't pay more than 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less. There is an exception to this for about two dozen contractors who have special bonds for consumer protection that are noted on the CSLB Web site.
- Don't pay in cash, and don't let the payments get ahead of the work.
- Check references, and get at least 3 bids and a written contract before your project begins.
- Contact CSLB if you have a complaint against a contractor.
The following is a list of those who were issued notices to appear and administrative citations (Admin Cites):
|VIOLATIONS||SUSPECT'S NAME & CITY||AGE||CLASS|
|NTA - Contracting without a license, illegal advertising||David Alan Ledford|
|Admin Cite - Illegal use of license number, illegal advertising||David Alan Ledford|
|NTA - Contracting without a license, illegal advertising||Robert Lee Griffith|
|NTA - Contracting without a license, illegal advertising||Fidel Morales|
|NTA - Contracting without a license, illegal advertising||Alfredo Cortez|
|NTA - Contracting without a license, illegal advertising||Kennneth Dzor|
|NTA - Contracting without a license, illegal advertising||William Kirk Strickler|
|Admin Cite - Contracting without a license|| James Elroy Byfield|
|Admin Cite - Contracting without a license, illegal advertising||Sky Linares|
|Admin Cite - Contracting without a license, illegal advertising||Cecilio Castro|
|NTA - Contracting without a license, illegal advertising||George Allen Greer|
|NTA - Contracting without a license, illegal advertising||Michael Wayne Armstrong|
|NTA - Contracting without a license||Eughe I. Livbimov|
|NTA - Contracting without a license, illegal advertising||Joe Britton|
|NTA - Contracting without a license, illegal advertising||Jason Edward Post|
|NTA - Contracting without a license, illegal advertising||David Ronald Fermer|
The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. CSLB licenses and regulates about 310,000 contractors and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. In fiscal year 2008-09, CSLB helped recover nearly $36 million in ordered restitution for consumers.
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