Online Ads Lead CSLB to Unlicensed and Uninsured Workers in Sacramento County


Thirteen individuals caught contracting illegally, all facing court appearance

SACRAMENTO - A quick sift through online advertisements led Contractors State License Board (CSLB) investigators to more than a dozen workers contracting illegally in Rancho Cordova. CSLB urges homeowners to think twice before hiring an unlicensed worker who advertises online, or anywhere else, because it's likely they are uninsured and unexperienced.

On August 1-2, CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) went undercover as homeowners and contacted alleged unlicensed individuals to bid on home improvement projects at a single-family home near Mather Airport. Thirteen suspects bid on projects from remodeling the kitchen and painting the interior and exterior of the home to plumbing.

The Rancho Cordova Police Department and Sacramento County District Attorney's Office were on site to process background checks while SWIFT issued citations for violations of state contractors' license law.

Twelve individuals were cited 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. The penalty for violating the advertising rules for unlicensed contractors is a fine of $700 to $1,000 (Business and Professions Code (BPC) §7027.1).

In addition, ten individuals placed bids ranging from $1,150 to $5,300, well above the $500 legal threshold for contracting without a license in California (BPC §7028). First-conviction penalties for contracting without a license include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines. A second conviction can carry a mandatory sentence of up to 90 days in jail. Penalties are more severe with each successive violation.

"It's very likely that unlicensed workers don't carry any insurance, leaving homeowners on the hook for any injuries or property damage that can occur on their property during the project," said Dave Fogt, CSLB Registrar. "The best way to find a licensed and qualified contractor is to use our online Find My Licensed Contractor feature to download a list of experienced and insured workers in your area."

The undercover operation also resulted in two people receiving a third citation for requiring an excessive down payment (BPC §7159.5). It's illegal for contractors to ask for more than 10 percent down or $1,000 for home improvement projects, whichever is less.
Lastly, one of the suspects did not carry workers' compensation (WC) insurance policies to cover those working for him (Labor Code §3700.5). This resulted in a "stop order" (a legal demand to cease all employee labor at a job site), as the unlicensed individual brought his hired help with him to the home.

All offenders were ordered to answer to misdemeanor charges on October 3, 2018, at 8:30 a.m. at the Sacramento County Superior Court (MAP), 720 9th street, Sacramento, CA 95814.

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

DAY 1

SUSPECT NAME
BUSINESS NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE
CLASSIFICATION
ALLEGED
VIOLATIONS
Fernando Gastelum
Sacramento
C-27 LandscapingContracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Julio Martinez
Sacramento
C-36 PlumbingContracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
No workers' compensation
Joseph Lavalley
Galt
C-33 Painting and DecoratingContracting without a license,Illegal advertising
Luis Lopez
Elk Grove
C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting without a license,Illegal advertising
Robert Perkins
Vacaville
C-33 Painting and DecoratingContracting without a license,Illegal advertising
Lorenzo Lopez
Sacramento
C-33 Painting and DecoratingIllegal advertising
Francisco Jimenez
Placerville
C-27 LandscapingContracting without a license,Illegal advertising
Sullcaray Faustino
Sacramento
C-33 Painting and DecoratingContracting without a license,Illegal advertising

DAY 2

SUSPECT NAME
BUSINESS NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE
CLASSIFICATION
ALLEGED
VIOLATIONS
Gerardo Zaragoza
Sacramento
B- General Building Illegal advertising
Leslie Nixon
Galt
C-33 Painting and DecoratingIllegal advertising
Pete Veillagomez
Rocklin
D-6 Concrete-Related Services Contracting without a license,Illegal advertising,
Excessive Down Payment
Marcos Vigil
Sacramento
C-33 Painting and DecoratingContracting without a license,Illegal advertising,
Excessive Down Payment
Alexander Tomolillo
Sacramento
B- General Building Contracting without a license

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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