CSLB Stops Unlicensed Workers During Sting in Siskiyou County

Five suspects cited for alleged illegal contracting as a part of national effort

SACRAMENTO - The Contractors State License Board's (CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) proactively conducts an average of one undercover sting or construction site sweep operation each week around the state to determine if contracting laws and regulations are properly followed. SWIFT investigators seek to protect consumers and level the playing fields for law abiding, licensed contractors. During one of four stings that took place within the past two weeks, CSLB investigators cited five people for illegal contracting in Yreka.

On June 19, 2018, SWIFT investigators compiled a list of suspected unlicensed contractors by searching through online advertisements and business cards collected from around the area. They posed as owners of a multi-family home near Yreka Park and invited these suspects to place bids on home improvement projects. Bids ranged from $650 for painting services to $25,800 for new concrete. A contractor license is required for all projects that cost $500 or more for labor and materials combined.

All five individuals who placed bids above the legal threshold were given a citation for alleged unlicensed contracting (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.

Three of the suspects received an additional citation for a possible misdemeanor charge of illegal advertising (BPC § 7027.1) for the ads that led investigators to invite them to the sting. State law requires that unlicensed contractors note in all advertising that they are not licensed, and licensed contractors must list their license number.

Additionally, one person was cited for not having workers' compensation (WC) insurance to cover employees working for him (Labor Code section 3700.5). If a contractor does not carry WC insurance, and an employee gets injured while working, homeowners may be liable if the incident happens on their property. Licensed contractors who don't have employees must file a WC exemption with CSLB, which is noted on the license record. The exception is for roofing contractors, who must carry WC insurance, whether they work solo or have employees (who also must be covered).

"Our SWIFT investigators work hard at enforcing California contracting laws," said CSLB Registrar David R. Fogt. "Every sting and sweep operation conducted gives us an opportunity to stop people from working illegally and educate them about how to become licensed."

Each person was cited with the assistance of the Siskiyou District Attorney's Office, and Yreka Police Department. As a part of the citation process, each suspect is informed of the laws they have violated, undergoes a background check, and receives a Notice to Appear in court. In most instances, suspects receive a packet of information to let them know, "What happens now," and material to help them understand the requirements to become a licensed contractor. This sting was conducted as part of a coordinated national effort to stop unlicensed contracting with the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies that involved California, Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, and Washington. A total of 61 suspected unlicensed contractors were identified in sting and sweep operations conducted by CSLB between June 11, 2018 and June 21. Thirty-eight received criminal notices to appear in court and 23 received administrative citations. The extended operations also led to the issuance of 51 Stop Orders to licensed and unlicensed contractors caught without workers' compensation insurance for their employees. Thirty-five citations were issued to licensed contractors and 25 cases are being prepared for referral to local district attorney offices.

All offenders caught in Yreka were ordered to appear in court on July 24, 2018, at 8:30 a.m. in Siskiyou County Superior Court, 311 4th Street, Yreka, CA 96097.

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

Carl Keith Wilkerson
C-33 - Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
James Ray Garner
Medford Oregon
C-8 Concrete Contracting without a license
Alexander Kucheryavko
Alex the Handyman
C-33 - Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Patrick Kevin Olson
Patrick Olson Consulting
Mount Shasta
C-13 Fencing,
C-9 Drywall
Contracting without a license,
No Workers' Compensation
Cayetano Ramirez Cuellar
Silver & Black Concrete Work
C-8 Concrete 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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