Illegal Ads Lead CSLB to Shady Contractors in San Fernando Valley


Twelve individuals now face charges for illegal contracting

SACRAMENTO – A quick sift through business cards posted at local home improvement stores and online ads were all the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) investigators needed to identify more than a dozen alleged unlicensed contractors to call them out to an undercover sting operation in Northridge.

On April 17-18, 2019, CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) teamed up with the Los Angeles City Attorney and Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation to conduct a sting operation at a home near California State University Northridge.

SWIFT investigators posed as homeowners and reached out to alleged unlicensed contractors. Twelve individuals agreed to come and place bids on projects like painting, flooring, pouring concrete and tree trimming.

The suspects’ bids ranged from $2,000 for painting, and installing drywall and tile flooring, up to $12,000 for pouring concrete, well above the $500 legal threshold where a California state contractors' license is needed. As a result, they 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 each successive violation.

The online and print advertisements that initially tipped-off SWIFT to the suspects, could lead to an additional misdemeanor charge for all 12 individuals for neglecting to state in their ads they were not licensed (BPC § 7027.1). Advertisements for unlicensed contractors must state that they are not a state-licensed contractor and the type of jobs advertised must be worth less than $500.

All 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.

CSLB urges homeowners to be on the look-out for some simple advertising clues that can help them avoid hiring someone who is unlicensed. "Licensed or unlicensed, advertising rules apply to both sides," said CSLB Registrar David Fogt. "Consumers should look for the six or seven-digit license number on the ad, or a brief statement that they are not licensed. If you don't see either, assume they're not licensed." Consumers should then look up the license number on CSLB's website to verify its accuracy and ask to see the contractor’s picture ID to make sure they are who they say they are.

Consumers can also use the "Find My Licensed Contractor" feature to download and/or print a list of qualified licensed contractors in their area.

All suspects were ordered to appear in court at a future date and time at the San Fernando Courthouse, 900 3rd Street, Department M, San Fernando, CA 91340.

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

NORTHRIDGE DAY 1 – APRIL 17, 2019
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Jose Manuel Salto Urieta
Pacoima
D-12 Synthetic Products Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Farshad Fakhri
Van Nuys
B- General Building Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Abel Vasquez Galindo
Northridge
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Esteban Acevedo
Sylmar
D-49 Tree Services Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Javier Caldera Ponce
Northridge
D-49 Tree Services Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Angel Mendez
Huntington Park
B- General Building Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Edward Kazangian
Glendale
B- General Building Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising

NORTHRIDGE DAY 2 – APRIL 18, 2019
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Jimmy Govea
North Hills
C-8 Concrete Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Francisco Escamilla-Gonzalez
Wilmington
C-8 Concrete Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Richard B. Cazar
Granada Hills
D-49 Tree Service Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Bryan Ayala
North Hollywood
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Rodney Moushilou
Atwater
B- General Building 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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