CSLB Targets Fraudulent Home Improvement Contractor in Fresno
SWIFT operation brings suspect to justice
SACRAMENTO — Gabino Pizano-Davalos is in custody and no longer able to cheat Fresno area homeowners, following a Contractors State License Board (CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) targeted sting operation. During the April 20, 2012 operation at a Fresno home, Pizano-Davalos received a stop order and notice to appear in court where he will face misdemeanor charges of contracting without a license and a host of other state home improvement contracting and labor law violations.
SWIFT investigators sought a bid from Pizano-Davalos for ornamental metal work on a property near Bullard Talent Elementary and Middle School. The suspect bid more than $500, in violation of Business and Professions (B&P) Code section 7028. State law requires that any home improvement job valued at more than $500 be conducted by a licensed contractor. Pizano-Davalos also received a stop order and will face charges for violating Labor Code section 3700.5, which requires workers’ compensation for all employees. A law that took effect in 2011 enables CSLB to issue stop orders, which prohibit the use of employee labor until a valid workers’ compensation policy is obtained and proof submitted to CSLB. The stop order law also entitles employees up to 10 days of pay.
Pizano-Davalos’ notice to appear in court includes charges of soliciting an excessive down payment (B&P Code section 7159.5(a)(3)(b)) and illegal advertising (B&P Code section 7027.1). California law prohibits solicitation or receipt of a down payment larger than 10 percent of the contract price or $1,000, whichever is less, for a home improvement contract. The law also requires contractors to put their license number in all advertisements. Those without a license may advertise for home improvement work valued at less than $500, but their ads must state that they are not a licensed contractor.
"CSLB does not tolerate unlicensed and uninsured operators in the construction industry," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "This kind of activity puts consumers at risk and undercuts legitimate, licensed contractors who follow state laws and regulations."
Pizano-Davalos, who has several prior misdemeanor convictions for battery and vandalism, is scheduled to be arraigned on June 5, 2012, at the Fresno County Superior Court’s downtown location.
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, and that a workers' compensation policy is in place if the contractor has employees.
- 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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