Illegal Operator Learns the Hard Way in Riverside County
Sting sends him and six others to court for contracting violationsSACRAMENTO — Being stung a second time can be a lot tougher when it's by the Contractors State License Board's (CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT). Jeffrey Laurence Manka, of Hemet, will find out firsthand after being caught in a sting operation that was conducted at a Norco home on July 30 and 31, 2012. Manka was cited in CSLB's Spring 2012 Blitz in March, but apparently continued to work. SWIFT and investigators from the Riverside County District Attorney's Office and Employment Development Department (EDD) targeted those suspected of contracting without a license and other violations.
Manka was one of six who bid more than $500 for concrete projects, and received another notice to appear in Superior Court for contracting without a license. State law requires individuals to have a license if they contract for home improvement and construction jobs of $500 or more for combined labor and material costs. Manka was arraigned for contracting without a license and illegal advertising on June 17, 2012, for the March Murrieta case and has another court date on August 7. If Manka is convicted of both the Murietta and the Norco cases, he could face 90 days in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines.
Three suspects who asked for more than 10 percent of the contract price as a down payment will face additional charges for soliciting excessive down payments. State law prohibits soliciting or receiving down payments larger than 10 percent of the home improvement contract price or $1,000, whichever is less.
EDD opened cases on four individuals who are suspected of illegal cash payments.
Six of the suspects also will be charged with illegal advertising. State law requires contractors to place their license number in all print, broadcast, and online advertisements. Those without a license can advertise to perform jobs valued at less than $500, but the ad must state that they are not a licensed contractor. Three suspects, including Manka, were advertising on craigslist. CSLB issued a consumer alert in June, urging homeowners to check license numbers and information provided through online bulletin boards with CSLB's Instant License Check.
"While online bulletin boards can be a valuable tool when consumers search for a contractor, it's important to take the extra step of checking the license information on CSLB's website," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "The license detail page will indicate whether the license is active and in good standing."
The seven who received NTAs are scheduled for arraignment at 7:30 a.m. on October 31 and November 1, 2012, at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
|Mario Benjamin Nicoll Diaz||Concrete||Soliciting excessive down payment, contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Brenda Lizette Navarro||Concrete||Misdemeanor representation of license not issued to her, illegal advertising|
|Cesar Antonio Rabago||Concrete||Soliciting excessive down payment, contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Ruben Perez-Palacios||Concrete, Masonry||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Jeffrey Lawrence Manka||Concrete||Contracting without a license|
|David Javregni Velazquez||Concrete||Soliciting excessive down payment, contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Rolando Hernandez-Torres||Concrete||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips before hiring anyone to work on their property:
- Only hire state-licensed contractors; 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 employees are covered by workers' compensation insurance.
- 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 with signed change orders for any additions or amendments to the original 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 2011-12, CSLB helped recover nearly $36 million in ordered restitution for consumers.
Sign Up For News Release Email Alerts
Please type in your email below and click submit.