CSLB Sting Sends One Illegal Operator to Jail and May Disconnect Another
Two-day undercover operation cracks down on the underground economy in Solano CountySACRAMENTO — Tevite Heneli Anitoni, 49, of Vallejo, was booked into jail for felony fraudulent use of a contractor’s license that didn’t belong to him during a Contractors State License Board (CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) sting in Vallejo on August 31 and September 1, 2011. Anitoni was recently caught contracting without a license and using a license not issued to him during a CSLB sweep of construction sites in Solano County on July 15, 2011. He has bailed out of jail, and his court date to face charges in the September 1 sting is set for September 22, 2011.
This sting also netted, Martin Gonzalez, 45, of Vallejo, who will be subject to the Public Utilities Commission disconnecting his telephone number if he continues to contract without a license and illegally advertise in classified directories for contractor jobs for which he is not appropriately licensed.
SWIFT investigators posed as homeowners seeking bids for landscaping, fencing, concrete, electrical, and cabinetry projects during the two-day operation; the Solano County District Attorney’s Office assisted in the undercover operation at the Vallejo sting home. Fifteen who were not properly licensed and bid more than $500 for labor and materials received notices to appear in court for contracting without a license, and related violations. (California’s Business and Professions (B&P) Code requires a contractor license for home improvement jobs valued at $500 or more for combined labor and material costs.) B&P Code also requires that contractor license numbers be placed in all forms of advertising. Those without licenses who did not state that they were unlicensed contractors in their advertisements also face illegal advertising charges. Non-licensed individuals can advertise and perform jobs valued at less than $500 provided their ads state that they are not a licensed contractor. California Labor Code requires that all employees be covered by a workers’ compensation insurance policy to protect homeowners if a worker is injured on their property and to provide appropriate medical care for an injured worker.
“CSLB investigators and our partners in law enforcement will use all legal options to curb participation in the underground economy,” said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. “Unlicensed, uninsured activity puts consumers at financial risk and hurts the integrity of the construction industry and home improvement contractors who follow the laws and regulations of this state.”
The following people who received notices to appear are scheduled for arraignment in Solano County Superior Court at 321 Tuolumne Street, Vallejo, CA, on October 12 and 13, 2011:
|SUSPECT NAME, BUSINESS, & CITY||AGE||WORK
|Enrique Chavez Esquivel
Enrique Gardening & Maintenance
|Jose Dejesus Rodriguez
|49||Concrete||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, failure to carry workers’ comp|
|27||Electrical||Contracting without a license|
|25||Landscaping||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|55||Landscaping||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Arturo Sanchez Puente
|41||Landscaping||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
New Look Concrete Const.
|33||Concrete||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Jose Mariano Rodriguez-Garcia
|30||Painting||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|SUSPECT NAME, BUSINESS, & CITY||AGE||WORK
|Jose Alberto Bernal Benitez
Ochoa’s Concrete & Landscape
|27||Landscaping||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Ivanhoe Alanis Torres
|32||Concrete||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Lucas Rene Gomez
Rene & Bros.
|55||Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|45||Landscaping||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, subject to telephone disconnect|
|Matthew James Bianchi
|30||Painting||Contracting without a license|
|Balbir Singh Aujla
Bill’s Yard Services
|49||Landscaping||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Garth Leslie Hopkins
|45||Fencing||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips before hiring anyone to work on their home:
- 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 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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