22 Unlicensed Contractors Cited by CSLB in Ventura County


Homeowners take unnecessary risks by hiring unlicensed contractors

SACRAMENTO – On February 26-27 the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) conducted a sting operation in Ventura County, which resulted in the citation of 22 unlicensed individuals. One of those cited had an expired license, which is why investigators are reminding the public about the importance of always hiring a licensed contractor.

CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT), with help from the Ventura County District Attorney's office and Simi Valley Police Department, posed as homeowners and contacted alleged unlicensed contractors based on their advertisements. The workers were invited to a 5-bedroom, single-family home in Simi Valley to bid on home improvement projects.

One individual cited for illegal contracting was using a CSLB license number that had expired in 2010. That person faces a penalty for fraudulent use of an incorrect license number (Business and Professions Code (BPC § 7027.3). Those interested in getting a contractor license are encouraged to attend one of our licensing workshops.

"Consumers should look up a contractor's license number on CSLB's website to make sure it's current and in good standing," said CSLB Registrar David Fogt. CSLB's website offers a "Find My Licensed Contractor" feature that provides a list of licensed contractors in any area by searching by city or ZIP code.

The highest bid received during the Simi Valley sting was from one individual who offered $25,000 for installing artificial grass in the backyard of the home. Other bids included $7,000 for painting, $6,500 for landscaping, and $5,500 for concrete work. In California, it's illegal for an unlicensed person to perform any contracting work on a 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 (BPC §7028(b)). First-conviction penalties 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.

The advertisements, which initially tipped-off SWIFT investigators to the suspects, could lead to an additional misdemeanor charge for all 22 suspects who neglected to state in their ads that they were not licensed (BPC § 7027.1). Advertisements for unlicensed contractors must note that they are not a state-licensed contractor.

The Simi Valley sting also resulted in four citations for failure to carry workers' compensation insurance (Labor Code (LAB) § 3700.5) after individuals came to the job site with employees. Contractors with employees must carry workers' compensation insurance. All C-39 Roofing contractors must have a workers' compensation policy even if they do not have employees. Contractors can submit a Certificate of Workers' Compensation Insurance on the CSLB website.

In addition, five 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)).

All suspects were ordered to appear in court at the Ventura County Superior Court, 800 South Victoria Avenue, Ventura, CA 93003 on May 15-16, 2019, at 8:30 am.

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

SIMI VALLEY DAY 1 – FEBRUARY 26, 2019
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Oscar Tomas Hernandez-Cortez
Canoga Park
C-54 Tile (Ceramic and Mosaic) Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Ruben Reyes Alonso
Ventura
C-27 Landscaping Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
No Workers’ Compensation
Manlio Penuelas
Simi Valley
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
William Daniel Tanner
Chatsworth
C-54 Tile (Ceramic and Mosaic) Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
Illegal Down Payment
Mario Reyes
Los Angeles
C-15 Flooring and Floor Covering Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Antonio Quinones Pinela
Canoga Park
C-27 Landscaping Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Roberto Nova Rodriguez
Camarillo
C-27 Landscaping Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Jeanne Marissa Ramirez Bernal
Camarillo
C-27 Landscaping Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Maderi Bahador
West Hills
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Masood Kazemeyni
West Hills
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising

SIMI VALLEY DAY 2 – FEBRUARY 27, 2019
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Francisco Rafael Mendoza-Guzman Sr.
Santa Barbara
C-8 Concrete Contractor Illegal Advertising,
Fraudulent use of incorrect license number
Randall Lee Brandes
Simi Valley
C-15 Flooring and Floor Covering Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
Fraudulent use of incorrect license number
Jose Antonio Gonzalez-Gonzalez
Oxnard
C-54 Tile (Ceramic and Mosaic) Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
No Workers’ Compensation
Cory Alan Meade
Thousand Oaks
C-27 Landscaping Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
Illegal Down Payment
Rigoberto Vargas Galeana
Thousand Oaks
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Dale Warren Debrunner
Fillmore
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
Illegal Down Payment
Bryce Warren Debrunner
Ventura
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
Illegal Down Payment
Guillermo Dimas Cazarez
Moorpark
C-27 Landscaping Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
No Workers’ Compensation
Emmanuel Ramirez Hernandez
Simi Valley
C-23 Ornamental Metal Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
Illegal Down Payment
Joseph E. Bergholtz
Camarillo
C-54 Tile (Ceramic and Mosaic) Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Felipe Palafox-Leal
Oxnard
C-8 Concrete Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Zakreia Adly Morkos Agaiby
Ventura
C-27 Landscaping Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
No Workers’ Compensation

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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