CSLB Hits Unlicensed Contractors with Citations During Southland Sting Operation


Twenty-two suspects caught for violating contracting laws in Riverside County undercover operation

SACRAMENTO - A contractor, whose license was taken away in the 1980's may have thought continuing to contract under the table would keep him a step ahead of the law. Little did he know, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is always on the lookout for unlicensed operators.

Daniel Bryan Kelly was one of over twenty suspected unlicensed contractors caught by CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) during a two-day undercover sting operation on September 26-27 in Bermuda Dunes.

SWIFT partnered with the Riverside County District Attorney's Office and set-up their operation at a single-family home near the Bermuda Dunes Country Club. Suspect advertisements were spotted on popular job posting websites, local newspapers, and the yellow pages.

The suspects bid on jobs like, tile cleaning and sealing, granite countertop installation, tree removal, installing a flagstone patio, converting a chemical pool into a salt water system, fabricating and installing a wrought iron fence, and installing garage doors.

Bids ranged from nearly $1,000 for tile cleaning and sealing to $10,500, for a flagstone masonry project, quoted by Kelly. Those bids were well over the legal threshold when a state license is needed.

In California, it's illegal for an unlicensed person to perform contracting work, including tile cleaning and sealing, on any home improvement project valued at $500 or more in combined labor and material costs. As a result, the suspects could now face a misdemeanor charge of contracting without a license (Business and Professions Code (BPC) §7028). First-conviction penalties include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines. A second conviction carries a mandatory 90 days in jail. Penalties are more severe with successive violations.

Twenty-one of the individuals could face an additional charge for illegal advertising. Licensed contractors must display their license number in all advertisements; unlicensed contractors must state in all ads that they do not have a license. (BPC §7027.1) The penalty for violating the advertising rules for unlicensed contractors is a fine of $700 to $1,000.

"Someone with a revoked license is knowingly working illegally, putting unsuspecting homeowners on the hook for property damages or injuries, and are undercutting legitimate contractors who comply with contracting and labor laws and regulations," said CSLB Registrar David Fogt. "By using CSLB's free online tools like 'Find My Licensed Contractor' or our 'Check a License' feature, homeowners can find a licensed contractor in their area and avoid the headache of hiring someone who could potentially be taking advantage of them."

One suspect could be charged with being an unregistered salesperson (BPC §7153). All salespeople working for a contractor must be registered with CSLB.

CSLB will now forward the cases to the Riverside County Attorney's Office with a recommendation for the criminal filings listed below. Eighteen suspects caught in this sting are scheduled to appear in court on January 9-10, 2018 at 7:30 am at the Riverside County Superior Court - Indio Larson Justice Center, 46-200 Oasis Street, Indio, CA 92201 (LINK). Four suspects were referred to the District Attorney and will receive their notice to appear in court on a later date.

NOTE: All suspects are presumed innocent until their case is resolved.

DAY 1

SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE
CLASSIFICATION
ALLEGED
VIOLATIONS
Hector Manuel Linares
Cathedral City
D-49 Tree Service Contractor Contracting Without a License, Illegal Advertising
Edgar Antonio Bonilla Villatoro
Indio
D-49 Tree Service Contractor Contracting Without a License, Illegal Advertising
Christopher Galvin McGowan
La Quinta
C-61 Limited Specialty License/D-64 Non Specialized and C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Unregistered Salesperson
Antonio Tomas
Palm Desert
C-61 Limited Specialty License/D-64 Non Specialized and C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting Without a License, Illegal Advertising
Katy Tomas
Palm Desert
C-61 Limited Specialty License/D-64 Non Specialized and C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting Without a License, Illegal Advertising
Raul Rodriguez
Indio
C-61 Limited Specialty License/D-64 Non Specialized and C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting Without a License, Illegal Advertising
Meldrick Saul Rodriguez Acosta
Desert Hot Springs
D-49 Tree Service Contractor Contracting Without a License, Illegal Advertising
Gary Dean Fry
Desert Hot Springs
C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting Without a License, Illegal Advertising
Mariano Estuardo Gomez Aguirre
North Palm Springs
D-49 Tree Service Contractor Contracting Without a License, Illegal Advertising
Jean Yves Bernard Girardin
Cathedral City
C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting Without a License, Illegal Advertising

DAY 2

SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE
CLASSIFICATION
ALLEGED
VIOLATIONS
Edmund Anthony Jensen
Palm Springs
C-61 Limited Specialty License/D-64 Non Specialized and C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting Without a License, Illegal Advertising
Jose Luis Camacho Andrade
Indio
D-49 Tree Service Contractor Contracting Without a License, Illegal Advertising
William Todd West
Palm Springs
C-29 Masonry Contractor Contracting Without a License, Illegal Advertising
Andres Preciado Del Real
Cochella
C-13 Fencing Contractor Contracting Without a License, Illegal Advertising
Tyler Paul Spillman
Cathedral City
C-61 Limited Specialty License/D-64 Non Specialized and C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting Without a License, Illegal Advertising
Guillermo Ramon Ocegueda Solis
Desert Hot Springs
C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting Without a License, Illegal Advertising,
No Workers' Compensation Insurance
Daniel Bryan Kelly
Desert Hot Springs
C-29 Masonry Contractor Contracting Without a License, Illegal Advertising
William Sterling Bowden
Joshua Tree
C-61 Limited Specialty License/D-28 Doors, Gates and Activating Devices Contractor Contracting Without a License, Illegal Advertising
Phillip Charles Brown
Coachella
C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting Without a License, Illegal Advertising
Steven Rogert Reiter
La Quinta
C-61 Limited Specialty License/D-64 Non Specialized and C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting Without a License, Illegal Advertising
James Marcus Sr.
Cathedral City
C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting Without a License, Illegal Advertising
Douglas Frank Hollstrom
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
C-61 Limited Specialty License/D-35 - Pool and Spa Maintenance Contractor Contracting Without a License, Illegal Advertising

The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. CSLB licenses and regulates almost 290,000 contractors in California and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. In fiscal year 2017-18, CSLB helped recover over $50 million in ordered restitution for consumers.


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