CSLB Targets Unlicensed Contractors in San Joaquin County


Twenty suspects face charges for contracting without a license, illegal advertising, and fraudulent use of a license number

SACRAMENTO – Last week, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) exposed several men illegally charging thousands of dollars for home improvement work because they lacked the proper license and violated advertising laws. Homeowners are being warned that high prices don't necessarily mean quality work. By taking a few minutes to "Check A License First" homeowners can save time and money in the long run.

At a single family home near University of the Pacific, CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) posed as homeowners and invited alleged unlicensed contractors to bid on jobs like landscaping, flooring, cabinet installation, paving concrete, tree trimming, and painting the home. Twenty people came at scheduled times thinking they were going to get a paycheck but instead received a notice to appear in court.

Over the two days, 19 workers provided bids well over the legal threshold for contracting without a license including $6,400 for landscaping, $8,000 for a kitchen remodel, and $18,559 to lay concrete.

In California, it's illegal for an unlicensed person to perform contracting work on any 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 each successive violation.

Eighteen individuals may also 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.

"Unlicensed contractors often find ways to add costs to a project along the way and it's not uncommon for projects to be abandoned before completion," said Dave Fogt, CSLB Registrar. "Not only can they be scamming homeowners, it's also likely that they don't carry insurance for their business which makes the consumer liable for any damage or injuries."

To avoid hiring a potentially unqualified worker for home improvement projects, homeowners should use CSLB's online "Find My Licensed Contractor" feature to download and/or print a list of qualified licensed contractors in their area.

Lastly, one of the suspects is facing a third violation for fraudulently using the license of another (BPC §7027.3). A conviction of this crime could result in up to a year in jail and/or up to $10,000 in fines.

The California Department of Insurance and San Joaquin District Attorney's Office were onsite to process background checks while SWIFT issued citations.

All suspects are scheduled to appear on various dates in September and October at the San Joaquin County Superior Court (MAP), 1800 N. California Street, Stockton, CA 95204.

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

DAY 1
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Juan Lopez Garcia
Lodi
D-49 Tree Service Contractor Contracting without a license
Oscar Leonel Urizar
Stockton
C-8 Concrete Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Ricardo Guzman Gonzalez
Stockton
C-13 Fencing Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Emmanuel Gutierrez Gomez
Stockton
C-13 Fencing Contractor,
C-8 Concrete Contractor
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Ryan Michael Mattos
Stockton
D-35 Pool and Spa Maintenance Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
John Austin Scott, Jr.
Stockton
D-49 Tree Service Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Donald Keith Cathey
Tracy
C-13 Fencing Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Richard Steven Cahill
Stockton
C-15 Flooring and Floor Covering Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Raul Ernie Corral, Jr
Tracy
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
Using the license of another
Anthony Rodriguez
Stockton
C-27 Landscaping Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Martin Rodriguez
Lathrop
C-27 Landscaping Contractor Contracting without a license
Rudy Varvel
Victor
D-49 Tree Service Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Luis Manuel Sanchez Ramirez
Lathrop
D-49 Tree Service Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Jose Valente Malagon Torres
Stockton
C-27 Landscaping Contractor Illegal advertising
David Michael Smith
Manteca
C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

DAY 2
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Ronald Lynn Kilgore
Manteca
C-15 Flooring and Floor Covering Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Carlos Luis Quiroz-Reyes
Stockton
C-27 Landscaping Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
George Dias
Stockton
B-General Building Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
David Marlon Newstrom
Stockton
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Andrew Jacob Billings
Stockton
C-8 Concrete 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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