Dozen Caught in CSLB Scotts Valley Sting Operation
Convicted criminal with active warrant caught among those contracting without a license
SACRAMENTO — Twelve people working without contractor licenses and other violations of state home improvement laws must appear in Santa Cruz County Superior Court after being caught in a Contractors State License Board (CSLB) sting operation on July 26, 2012. CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) investigators partnered with the Santa Cruz County District Attorney's (DA) Office and Scotts Valley Police Department for a one-day sting where investigators sought bids for such home improvements as painting, carpentry, and landscaping at a Scotts Valley residence.
The 12 individuals who bid more than the state limit of $500 (combined labor and materials) received a notice to appear (NTA) in court. State law requires a license for home improvement and construction contracts that are more than $500. Two face charges for soliciting excessive down payments. It is against the law to solicit or accept a down payment larger than 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, for a home improvement contract. Eight also face illegal advertising charges. Contractors are required to place their license number in all online, print, and broadcast advertisements. Those without licenses can legally advertise for jobs valued at less than $500, but their ads must state that they are not licensed contractors.
One of those caught was former licensee Mathew Bean (#660719), whose license was revoked in 2006. Scotts Valley Police arrested and booked William Louis Piette for an active $10,000 warrant out of Santa Clara County on drug-related charges.
"Always make sure any contractor you hire to work on or around your home has a license that is in good standing with CSLB," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "It only takes a minute to check CSLB's website for details about your contractor."
SWIFT investigators and partners followed the sting with a series of job site sweeps on Friday and Saturday, July 27 and 28, 2012, in Aptos, Freedom, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Soquel, and Watsonville. Three stop orders and citations with fines totaling about $35,000 were issued in Aptos, Scotts Valley, and Watsonville to licensed contractors and unlicensed operators who did not have workers' compensation for onsite employees. The unlicensed operator in Scotts Valley had seven employees and was working on a home remodel for a realty company. Proper building department permits had not been pulled for that job. Four citations for contracting without a license and illegal advertising were issued to illegal operators in Santa Cruz, Soquel, Watsonville, and Freedom. Another was cited in Aptos for contracting on an inactive or suspended license.
The 12 who received NTAs on July 26 are scheduled for arraignment at 9 a.m. on September 26, 2012, Santa Cruz County Superior Court.
|Jeremy Douglas Miller||HVAC||Contracting without a license|
|Jose Dolores Amaya Escobar||Painting||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, soliciting excessive down payment|
|Silverio Escobar||Painting||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, soliciting excessive down payment|
|Raymond Alan Rafeiro||Painting||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Paul William Reiter||Painting||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Derek Abdiel Scott||Painting||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Gabe A. Harris||Painting||Contracting without a license|
|Gregory Edward Oliver||Landscaping||Contracting without a license|
|William Louis Piette||Framing and Rough Carpentry||Contracting without a license|
|Jose Luis Rodriguez Paniagua||Landscaping||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|J. Jesus Paniagua Rodriguez||Landscaping||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Mathew George Bean||Painting||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, using a revoked license number|
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.
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.
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