Merced Undercover Operation Stops Unlicensed, Uninsured Operators from Contracting for Home Improvement
Five receive stop work orders for failure to carry workers’ compensation insurance
SACRAMENTO — The Contractors State License Board’s (CSLB) Central Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) conducted an undercover sting at a Merced home on August 25, 2011, and issued notices to appear in court and Stop Orders to those contracting for home improvement projects without a state contractor license or workers’ compensation insurance. Both are required by state law to ensure consumer and employee protection. The Merced County District Attorney’s Office assisted Central SWIFT in the operation.
During the operation, Central SWIFT made use of CSLB’s newly granted authority to issue stop work orders to unlicensed and licensed contractors who do not have workers’ compensation insurance for employees. California Labor Code requires that each employee be covered by a workers’ compensation insurance policy, and CSLB requires this to maintain a contractor license in “good standing.” This employee insurance coverage also protects homeowners from liability if a worker is injured on their property. CSLB issued five Stop Orders during the Merced operation and has issued 69 such orders since the law took effect in January.
Ten phony contractors showed up at the Merced home. They bid more than $500 for labor and materials and were not properly licensed to do so. The California Business and Professions (B&P) Code requires a license for all home improvement and construction work valued at $500 or more for labor and materials. Each person received a notice to appear in court for contracting without a license and illegal advertising. (B&P Code also requires that contractors place their license number in all forms of advertisements.) Those who do not have a contractor license may advertise to do jobs valued at less than $500, but their ads must state that they are not a licensed contractor.
“CSLB’s Central SWIFT is not shy about using this important new stop order law to combat illegal, uninsured activity,” said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. “Hopefully, those with and without licenses realize that they cannot shirk their responsibility of maintaining workers’ compensation for their employees, which also protects our state’s homeowners in the event a worker is hurt on the job.”
The following suspects who received notices to appear in court are scheduled to be arraigned in Department 9 of Merced County Superior Court at 2260 N Street on October 10, 2011, at 8:15 a.m.:
|SUSPECT NAME, BUSINESS, & CITY||AGE||WORK
|49||Ceramic and Mosaic Tile||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Jorge Moreno Mendez
|39||Landscaping||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, failure to carry workers’ comp, stop work order|
|Kenneth Randall Kelly
|29||Landscaping||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, failure to carry workers’ comp, stop work order|
AJG Complete Lawn
|43||Landscaping||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, failure to carry workers’ comp, stop work order|
|James Robert Eaton
Jim's Handyman Services
|49||General Building||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Jaime Aguilar Avina
Avina Borthers Gardening
|41||Landscaping||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Ramon Wilfredo Diaz
|43||Painting||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|28||General Building||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Brandon Alan Ellison
Ellison's Painting & Home Repair
|26||General Building||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, failure to carry workers’ comp, stop order|
|24||General Building||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, failure to carry workers’ comp, stop order|
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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