CSLB and Partners Hit Unlicensed Contractors with One-Two-Three Punch
Many caught in Los Angeles County sting now face criminal and civil penalties, plus a tax audit
SACRAMENTO — The power of partnerships was quite evident this week when the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) set up an undercover sting operation in the city of Sylmar. Members from CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) teamed with staff from the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, the state’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) and Employment Development Department (EDD). A total of nine suspected unlicensed contractors were arrested at the operation that took place on Tuesday, March 20, 2012, in a house near the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station.
Three of the suspects were repeat offenders. Joe Cabrera, doing business as Professional Touch Painting, failed to appear in court after being caught in a CSLB sting in CSLB's spring California Blitz in 2010. He was taken to jail on a $10,000 arrest warrant. In addition, DLSE issued him a Stop Order, along with a $1,500 citation for having an employee with him and no workers’ compensation insurance.
CSLB caught Spiro Dimitry Kamar last week during its California Blitz sting operation in Lawndale. On March 15, he was caught for contracting without a license, a violation of Business and Professions (B&P) Code section 7028. This week he was working as an unregistered salesperson (B&P Code section 7153) for a licensed contractor. CSLB investigators will now meet with the licensee who illegally hired Kamar.
Benjamin Rivera, Jr., doing business as Painting by Ben, was cited by CSLB in 2000 for illegal advertising (B&P Code section 7027.1). This week’s charges include contracting without a license and another illegal advertisement.
State law requires that all home improvement contracts of $500 or more for labor and materials be undertaken by a licensed contractor, and licensees must put their state-issued license number in all advertisements. Those without a license may work on jobs valued at less than $500 but their ads must indicate that they are not a licensed contractor.
Homeowners face serious financial loss and risk of worker injury on their property, including potential liability for injuries sustained by a worker not covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Also, legitimate, licensed contractors face unfair competition from illegal operators who skirt laws that protect homeowners and workers.
DLSE issued a total of five Stop Orders and $13,000 in citations for workers’ compensation insurance violations. EDD will conduct seven investigations for possible tax violations.
"This operation shows the power we have when we form partnerships to go after phony contractors,” " said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "Not only can we hit them with criminal charges, our partners from DLSE and EDD can hit them right in the wallet."
The following suspects are set for arraignment on either June 4 or 5, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. in Department M of the San Fernando Courthouse of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, 900 3rd Street in San Fernando:
|SUSPECT'S NAME, BUSINESS NAME, AND CITY||AGE||WORK
|Zhuo Jun Lin
|51||Flooring||CSLB: Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, excessive down payment; DLSE: Stop Order (3 employees), $4,500 citation for workers’ compensation insurance violation (Labor Code 3700.5)|
|Jose De Los Santos Cabral
|53||Concrete||CSLB: Contracting without a license, illegal advertising; DLSE: Stop Order (2 employees), $3,000 citation for workers’ compensation insurance violation (Labor Code 3700.5)|
|J.Socorro Estrada Morales
|50||Concrete||CSLB: Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, excessive down payment|
M.G Hardwood Flooring
|43||Flooring||CSLB: Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, excessive down payment|
|Spiro Dimitry Kamar
|26||Painting||CSLB: Unregistered Salesperson (B&P 7153(a)|
|59||Painting||CSLB: Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, excessive down payment|
Professional Touch Painting
|39||General Building||CSLB: Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, excessive down payment; DLSE: Stop Order (1 employees), $1,500 citation for workers’ compensation insurance violation (Labor Code 3700.5)|
|Benjamin Rivera Jr.
Painting By Ben
|47||General Building||CSLB: Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, excessive down payment|
|45||Painting||CSLB: Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, excessive down payment; DLSE: Stop Order (1 employees), $1,500 citation for workers’ compensation insurance violation (Labor Code 3700.5), $1,000 citation for cash pay violation (Labor Code 226(a)|
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 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.
Sign Up For News Release Email Alerts
Please type in your email below and click submit.