CSLB Receives $179K Bid from Unlicensed Contractors in Alameda County


Homeowners are encouraged to hire only licensed contractors and get at least three bids

SACRAMENTO – The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) conducted a two-day string operation in San Leandro to catch alleged unlicensed contractors. One bid of $179,000 has investigators warning homeowners about price gouging and encouraging anyone looking for a contractor to get at least three bids from licensed contractors before hiring someone to do the work.

On January 15-16, CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT), with help from the California Department of Insurance (CDI) and the San Leandro Police Department, went undercover to catch unlicensed individuals in the act of illegal contracting. The sting operation took place at a single-family home near Marina Park.

Investigators posed as homeowners and contacted workers based on their online and print advertisements to bid on projects like paving a concrete driveway, bathroom renovations, electrical work, landscaping, and painting the exterior of the home.

Of those contacted, 14 individuals came to place bids on the projects. A pair of brothers, who claimed to also be business partners, bid on demolishing the existing asphalt driveway and pouring concrete in its place. According to their calculations, the cost for a 145-foot-long by 34-foot-wide driveway would be $179,200; this is the highest bid CSLB investigators have seen for a home improvement job during a sting operation. The lowest bid over the two days was $2,200 for labor on a bathroom remodel.

All 14 individuals were cited for exceeding the $500 threshold for labor and materials combined above which a state-issued contractor license is required (Business and Professions Code (BPC) § 7028). First-conviction penalties for misdemeanor contracting without a license include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines. Penalties are more severe with each successive violation. A second conviction carries a mandatory sentence of 90 days in jail.

“CSLB does not regulate pricing for contractors, but in this instance, a $179,000 quote is exceedingly high for the type of work involved,” said Dave Fogt, CSLB Registrar. “This is why it’s so important for homeowners to do their homework and get at least three bids from licensed contractors as well as references from their past work to ensure they are the right person for the job before hiring anyone.” He continued, “just because someone is charging a high price doesn’t necessarily mean they have the skills to perform the work.”

The advertisements, which initially tipped-off SWIFT to the suspects, could lead to an additional misdemeanor charge for 13 suspects who neglected to state in their ads they were not licensed (BPC § 7027.1). Advertisements for unlicensed contractors must note that they are not a state-licensed contractor.

In addition, four of the bidders required an excessive down payment before starting work and were also written-up for that alleged violation. It is illegal for contractors to ask for more than 10 percent down or $1,000, whichever is less (BPC §7159.5 (a)(3)(b)).

One suspect may face a felony charge for placing bids on varying projects while using another contractor’s license number (Business and Professions Code (BPC) section (§) 7027.3). If found guilty, punishments include up to $10,000 in fines and/or up to a year in jail.

All suspects were ordered to appear in court at the East City Hall of Justice, 5151 Gleason Drive, Dublin, CA, 94568 on April 23 – 25, 2019, at 9:00 am.

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

SAN LEANDRO DAY 1 – JANUARY 15, 2019
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Jose Trinidad Carrillo Reyes
San Jose
D-49 Tree Service Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Williar Garcia Alva
Oakland
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Pablo Esteban Tomas Pablo
Oakland
C-13 Fencing Contractor
C-27 Landscaping Contractor
Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
Excessive Downpayment
Denis Orlando Gomez
Oakland
B-General Building Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
Excessive Downpayment
Lolesio Vatuvei
Hayward
C-8 Concrete Contractor Contracting Without a License
Nicolas Ramos Gomez
Oakland
C-15 Flooring and Floor Covering Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
Excessive Downpayment
Luis Rodriguez
Oakland
C-10 Electrical Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
Excessive Downpayment
Semisi Latu
San Leandro
C-8 Concrete Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
Fraudulent Use of a License Number
SAN LEANDRO DAY 2 – JANUARY 16, 2019
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Juan Ortiz
San Leandro
C-8 Concrete Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Jose Cruz
Daly City
C-8 Concrete Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Jose Edgardo Cruzurias
Oakland
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Francisco Marin
Oakland
B-General Building Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Don Simpson
Livermore
B-General Building Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Timothy Michael Agront
Castro Valley
C-10 Electrical 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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