Unlicensed Contractors Caught in CSLB Monterey County Investigation


Thirteen suspects cited for illegal contracting and may face misdemeanor charges

SACRAMENTO - On June 20-21, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) performed a sting operation at a single-family home near the Monterey Regional Airport to stop unlicensed contracting. Online advertisements, business cards, and ads in a local newspaper led CSLB investigators to 13 individuals who were allegedly contracting without a license. Those men left the sting with citations and a date to appear in court.

Members of CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) posed as homeowners and invited suspected unlicensed contractors to bid on home improvement projects; with help from the Monterey County District Attorney's office they issued citations on the spot.

The alleged unlicensed individuals submitted bids on roofing, decking, landscaping, painting, cabinet, and masonry work. One individual bid $25,000 to paint the exterior of the house. The lowest bid over the two days was $1,000 for masonry work.

In California, it's illegal to bid $500 or more (labor and materials combined) on construction projects without a state-issued contractor license (Business and Professions Code (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.

Eleven of the suspects received a citation for illegal advertising. The penalty for violating the advertising rules for unlicensed contractors is a fine of $700 to $1,000 (BPC § 7027.1). Licensed contractors must display their license number in all advertisements; unlicensed contractors must state in all ads that they do not have a license.

"Not only can unlicensed contractors be scamming homeowners, but they generally don't carry insurance for their business which makes the consumer liable for any damage or injuries that occur during the project," said Dave Fogt, CSLB Registrar. "To help avoid bringing an unlicensed contractor into your house, homeowners should take a few minutes to check a license online at CSLB's website before hiring someone for home improvement work." CSLB has also launched a "Find My Licensed Contractor" on its website that allows consumers to search for licensed contractors by trade in a specific geographic area.

In addition, two of the bidders required an excessive down payment before starting work and were also written-up for that 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 who posed as a roofing contractor faces three separate citations - contracting without a license, illegal advertising, and not carrying a workers' compensation (WC) insurance policy to cover those working for him (Labor Code section 3700.5). All C-39 roofing contractors must carry WC insurance in the State of California.

Those cited are scheduled to appear August 8 & 9, 2018, at the Monterey County Superior Court (MAP), 240 Church St, Ste. 320, Salinas, CA 93901.

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

DAY 1
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Daniel Raymond Haldeman
Aromas
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Miguel Angel Cerna Ramirez
Seaside
C-15 Flooring and Floor Coverings Contracting Without a License,
Excessive Down Payment
Albino Rodriguez
Seaside
D-41 Siding and Decking Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Wendell Oliver Rogers
Salinas
C-29 Masonry Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Francisco Alvarez Ramirez
Watsonville
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising, Excessive Down Payment
Bernabe Jose Carranco
Aptos
D-41 Siding and Decking,
C-33 Painting and Decorating
Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Terry Lee Mann
Seaside
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising

DAY 2
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Rudy Alcanta Guzman
Freedom
C-39 Roofing,
D-63 Construction and Clean-up
Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
No Workers' Compensation
Jonathan Maldonado
Seaside
D-41 Siding and Decking Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Anthony Todd Von Kaenel
Marina
C-27 Landscaping Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Fernando Ramos-Flores
Capitola
D-41 Siding and Decking Contracting Without a License
Johnny Van X Nguyen
Marina
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Jose Maria Lopez
Watsonville
C-6 Cabinet, Millwork, and Finish Carpentry Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising

CSLB encourages consumers to always "check the license first" before hiring a contractor by visiting www.cslb.ca.gov or by calling 800-321-CSLB (2752). CSLB has introduced a new website feature to help consumers start their search for a licensed contractor. The new "Find My Licensed Contractor" feature enables users to build a list of all licensed contractors, sorted by trade, in a specific geographic area.

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 2016-17, CSLB helped recover over $47 million in ordered restitution for consumers.


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