Nine Caught Unlawfully Contracting in Siskiyou County
CSLB sting operation sends illegal operators to court for unlicensed home improvement contracting
SACRAMENTO — Nine individuals will answer to charges of unlawful contracting after being caught by the Contractors State License Board's (CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) and Siskiyou County District Attorney's Office investigators in an undercover sting operation held at a home in Weed on July 11, 2012. The following day, SWIFT and District Attorney investigators were joined by Department of Insurance investigators and the Weed Police Department for a sweep of various construction sites throughout Siskiyou County to identify unlicensed and uninsured activity.
During the sting operation, SWIFT investigators sought bids for roofing, tile, painting, concrete, and landscaping. The eight (listed below) who bid more than $500 for labor and materials face misdemeanor charges for contracting without a license. Some also face charges for illegal advertising. Contractors are legally required to place their license number in all advertisements; those without a license may advertise to do jobs valued at less than $500, but their ads must state that they are not a licensed contractor. One suspect, John Molina Esquivel, had an outstanding $10,000 arrest warrant in Pomona. He was cited and released by Weed Police; a court date will be set in Los Angeles County for the Pomona matter.
Investigators who conducted the July 12 construction site sweeps in Yreka, Weed, Etna, Fort Jones, McCloud, and Montague found all contractors had licenses and appropriate workers' compensation insurance coverage. However, in Mount Shasta, Daniel George Beauchene received a notice to appear in court on September 11, 2012, for contracting without a license and failing to secure workers' compensation insurance for his four employees who were in the process of rebuilding a home. Beauchene also was issued a stop order, which prohibits him from working until he obtains a valid workers' compensation policy, and entitles workers to up to 10 days' worth of pay.
"CSLB and its law enforcement partners have put unlicensed contractors on notice that underground economic activity will not be tolerated," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "Not only does the activity put our state consumers at risk, but it also creates unfair competition for legitimate, licensed contractors who obey state laws and regulations.""
Suspects caught in the July 11 sting operation are set for arraignment at 9 a.m. on September 11, 2012, in the Siskiyou County Superior Court's Weed Branch:
|Johnny Ray Campbell||Painting||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Steven Douglas Kirkwood||General Construction||Contracting without a license|
|David Cloyd Medeiros||Painting||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising,$10,000 warrant out
of Pomona for driving on suspended license
|Timothy Martin Pfeiffer||Concrete||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Christopher Miles Prim||Roofing||Contracting without a license|
|Brett Marcus Nichols||Landscaping||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Heliodoro Sanchez||Landscaping||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips before hiring anyone to work on their home:
- Hire only state-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 there is workers' compensation insurance for 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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