Cabinet Makers Using Revoked Roofing Licenses Sentenced, Ending Lengthy Multi-Agency Investigation Led by CSLB
Danville couple who defrauded several East Bay Area consumers headed to jail
SACRAMENTO —An investigation by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB), Franchise Tax Board, and several Bay Area county prosecutors' offices ended with the sentencing of Danville couple Rick Alvin Powers, 57, and Cathy Powers, 56, on March 12, 2010, at Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez. Judge Mary Ann O'Malley sentenced Rick Powers to one year in county jail, which he is set to begin before the end of this month, and five years of formal probation. The couple was also ordered to pay the Franchise Tax Board and the State Compensation Insurance Fund (workers' compensation) for taxes.
Rick Powers pleaded no contest to three counts of diversion of construction funds and three of failure to file tax returns, and Cathy Powers pleaded no contest to three counts of failure to file tax returns for bilking ten customers during 2003 and 2004.
Investigators from CLSB and the other public agencies arrested the couple at their Danville office on January 12, 2007, after complaints to the Board that indicated the couple took excessively large down payments (of more than 60% in some instances), did very little work, conned their customers out of money they claimed was necessary to complete the work, then failed to pay suppliers and other vendors. As part of the sentence, the Powers' will be required to make restitution of $152,745.95 to their victims.
"It is gratifying that the victims will be able to recoup their losses, thanks to CSLB's investigators, partnerships with other public agencies, and the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "We hope this sends a clear message that flagrant disregard for California consumers and tax payers won't be tolerated by the Contractors Board or our partners in law enforcement."
Prior to their arrests, the couple had a history of violating state Contractor License Law, including receipt of excessive down payments. It is illegal to take more than 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment. An exception is made for about two dozen licensed contractors who pay for special coverage that ensures consumers are protected. These exceptions are noted on the CSLB Web site.
Prior complaints and criminal convictions for diversion of construction funds, burglary, and insurance fraud led to the revocation of Rick Powers' roofing contractor license (#602480) in 1995, and Cathy Powers' roofing contractor license (#723398) in 1998. The revocations prevented either of the Powers from possessing a contractor license, or serving as an officer, director, associate, partner, or qualifying individual for another California licensed contractor. Investigators believe when the crimes were committed in Contra Costa County, the couple was involved with then-licensed contractor, Philip Leech (#799552) and his business called "In and Out Designs" in Pleasant Hill. Leech's license was revoked in 2005. The couple was known to have solicited jobs, signed contracts, taken money, and accessed business accounts, indicating they were partners in the company.
Before hiring any contractor, homeowners should go online at www.cslb.ca.gov or call CSLB's automated telephone system 1-800-321-CSLB (2752) to verify that the contractor holds a valid license without disciplinary action, and has workers' compensation insurance and bonds.
The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. CSLB licenses and regulates California's 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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