Illegal Operator on Revoked License Convicted of Failing to Insure Workers
Contractors State License Board lead results in DA prosecution
SACRAMENTO — Revoked general building contractor, Ricky Lee Cremona, 47, of Salinas, pleaded no contest to charges of failure to carry workers’ compensation insurance in Monterey County Superior Court on September 30, 2011.
The case against Cremona was opened in June 2011 when a tip to a Contractors State License Board (CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) investigator helped identify an unlicensed person and his employees engaged in construction work on the patio of a Monterey restaurant. California law requires a state contractor license for home improvement and construction jobs valued at $500 or more in labor and materials. Contractors with employees must purchase a workers’ compensation insurance policy that covers all of them in the event of an on-the-job injury.
CSLB’s enforcement representative assigned to Monterey County investigated the lead with colleagues from the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office, which targets violators of state workers’ compensation laws. While at the jobsite, the CSLB investigator found that Cremona’s General Building contractor license expired in 1996, and was revoked in 1998 following administrative investigations concluding that he failed to repay a claim against his license bond, departed from trade standards, demanded payments in excess of the work performed, and failed to adhere to state contracting laws.
As a result of this recent criminal conviction, Cremona was sentenced to five days in county jail or work detail, and three years’ probation. He was fined $10,000, of which $7,500 was stayed provided he does not violate terms and conditions of probation. While on probation, he may not work as a contractor without a valid license, and must maintain workers’ compensation insurance and obtain appropriate business licenses and permits. He may not pay employees in cash.
"CSLB is gratified that its partnership with building officials and compliant licensees in Monterey County led to this successful prosecution," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "Those who thumb their nose at state and local laws and building codes put their employees and California consumers at risk and create a competitive disadvantage for those who acquire the proper licensure, insurance, and building permits."
CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips before hiring anyone to work on their home or property:
- Hire only licensed contractors and ask to see their license and a photo ID to verify their identity.
- Always check the license number on CSLB’s website at www.cslb.ca.gov or www.CheckTheLicenseFirst.com to make sure the license is in good standing.
- Don’t pay more than 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment. There is an exception for about two dozen licensees who carry special bonds to protect consumers. These exceptions are noted on CSLB’s website.
- Don’t pay in cash, and don’t let payments get ahead of the work.
- Get at least three bids, check references, and get a written contract.
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 email alerts. 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 2010-11, CSLB helped recover nearly $45 million in ordered restitution for consumers.
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