Dozen Caught for Unlicensed Contracting in Lake Arrowhead Region
Sting operation emphasizes consumer need to check the license first
SACRAMENTO — A dozen men were arrested during an undercover sting operation in the San Bernardino County town of Blue Jay, near Lake Arrowhead, that was conducted by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT), the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, and the California Department of Insurance on September 15, 2010. The individuals face criminal charges or administrative fines for contracting without a license, illegal advertising, and excessive down payment violations. One man was booked in county jail for being uncooperative and resisting arrest.
"We encourage consumers to think twice before allowing anyone without a contractor license to work on their home or property," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "You may be gambling with your family’s safety or finances if something on the project goes wrong."
During the operation, SWIFT investigators posed as homeowners who were soliciting bids for painting, concrete, and roofing work at a Blue Jay home. Suspects who bid more than $500 for labor and materials received a notice to appear in court. California law requires all home improvement jobs valued at more than $500 to be undertaken by a licensed contractor. Contractors also must place their state contractor license number in all advertisements. Unlicensed individuals may advertise and accept jobs valued at less than $500, but their ads must state that they are not a licensed contractor.
CSLB licensees have at least four years of journey-level experience in their license classification and must pass exams dealing with their trade and state contracting laws. State law requires that licensees purchase a license bond for consumer protection and that their employees have workers’ compensation coverage to protect property owners from liability. Because of the risk involved in their work, C-39 Roofing contractors must purchase workers’ compensation for themselves even if they do not have employees. Since 2005, anyone applying for a new contractor license or adding a classification has also been required to submit fingerprints for a criminal background check.
Suspects who received NTAs will be arraigned at the San Bernardino County Criminal Court facility at 351 N. Arrowhead Avenue, San Bernardino, CA, on December 14, 2010:
|Fernando Anival Ayala
|26||Roofing||NTA - Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, soliciting excessive down payment|
|Julio Manciula Vasques
|48||Roofing||NTA - Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, soliciting excessive down payment|
|Greg Alvin Lane
|52||Painting||NTA - Contracting without a license|
|Mark Anthony Hasenbener
|40||Painting||NTA - Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, using another person’s contractor license|
|Olav Alexander Flores
|37||Painting||NTA - Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, soliciting excessive down payment|
|Matthew Allen Wegner
|51||Painting||NTA - Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|54||General Contracting||NTA - Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, soliciting excessive down payment|
|Miguel Gonzalez Campa
|51||Painting||NTA - Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, soliciting excessive down payment|
|Brad Jonathan Palenchar
|31||General Contracting||NTA - Contracting without a license|
|Christopher Lee Henning
|38||General Contracting||NTA - Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, soliciting excessive down payment|
|Juan Martinez Huerta
|28||Concrete||NTA - Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, soliciting excessive down payment|
Big Bear Lake
|30||Concrete||ARREST – Resisting Arrest, uncooperative
NTA - Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, soliciting excessive down payment
CSLB urges consumers to remember the following tips when hiring a contractor:
- 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).
- Ask to see the person’s identification to make sure you are dealing with the correct individual.
- 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 purchase special bonds that are noted on CSLB’s website.
- Don't pay in cash, and don't let the payments get ahead of the work.
- Check references, and get at least three bids and a written contract before your project begins.
- Make sure your contractor obtains the necessary building permits for any project. If you are unsure of these requirements, contact your local building department.
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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