Five-Day Bay Area Sting Operation Targets Workers’ Compensation Violators
CSLB and Alameda County District Attorney partner to curb unlicensed, uninsured construction
SACRAMENTO — One dozen illegal operators will have their day in court following a Contractors State License Board (CSLB) sting operation in the Berkeley Hills on February 22, 23, 28, 29, and March 1, 2012. The individuals are suspected of contracting without a license, not securing workers’ compensation insurance for their employees, soliciting excessive down payments, using contractor license numbers not belonging to them, and advertising illegally. Inspectors from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office assisted with the operation.
During the operation, members of CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) sought bids for flooring, glazing, landscaping, and painting projects at the 2500-square-foot home used for the sting. The 12 who bid more than $500 for labor and materials received a notice to appear in court for contracting without a license in violation of Business and Professions (B&P) Code section 7028, and illegal advertising (B&P Code section 7027.1). 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.
Four of the dozen who did not have workers’ compensation for employees will face an additional misdemeanor charge for violating Labor Code section 3700.5. Juan Luis Amador Arzabal, 37, of Oakland, solicited an excessive down payment, in violation of B&P Code section 7159.5(a)(3). State law prohibits soliciting or receiving a down payment larger than 10 percent of the contract price or $1,000, whichever is less. There is an exception for about two dozen licensees who purchase special bonds for consumer protection, and is noted in the contractors’ license detail page on CSLB’s website.
Unlicensed operator Juan Noel Garcia-Vidriesca, 34, of Oakland, is suspected of fraudulent misrepresentation of a contractor license number (B&P Code section 7027.3), which can be charged as a felony. A lathing and plastering and general construction (B&P Code section 7057) contractor face administrative citations for aiding and abetting a non-licensee (B&P Code section 7114). CSLB investigators learned Garcia-Vidriesca made arrangements for the general contractor to erect scaffolding for the project, and the lathing and plastering contractor allegedly allowed the non-licensee to use his license number.
"CSLB and the Alameda County District Attorney take the state’s consumer and worker protection laws very seriously," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "California homeowners considering hiring a contractor should review Ten Tips to Make Sure Your Contractor Measures Up to learn their rights as consumers. Before signing a contract, always consult CSLB’s online instant license check to ensure the contractor’s license is in good standing and that they have workers’ compensation insurance if they have employees."
|SUSPECT'S NAME, BUSINESS NAME, AND CITY||AGE||WORK
|Dennis Todd Hals
|51||Flooring||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|David Paul Milichichi
|54||Flooring||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Esvin Hernan DeLa Paz Garrido
|31||Flooring||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|57||Glazing||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|36||Landscaping||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, no workers’ comp|
|Hai Van Ho
|53||Landscaping||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Juan Noel Garcia-Vidriesca
**Two licensees to be cited for aiding and abetting a non-licensee
|34||Painting||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, misrepresentation of a contractor license|
|Juan Luis Amador Arzabal
|37||Painting||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, soliciting excessive down payment|
|Herbert Curtis Fanney
|77||Conrete||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, no workers’ comp|
|33||Painting||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, no workers’ comp|
|Daniel P Fuentes
|78||Landscaping||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Jesus Arieta Diaz
|52||Painting||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, no workers’ comp|
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.
- 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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