CSLB and Shasta County District Attorney Continue Maximum Effort to Protect Carr Fire Survivors from Unlicensed Contractors


Agencies joined forces to conduct undercover sting operation in fire zone

SACRAMENTO – As Carr Fire survivors in the Redding area of Shasta County do their best to navigate the road to rebuilding, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) and Shasta County District Attorney's (DA) Office remain on-alert to make sure it's not easy for unlicensed or unscrupulous contractors to take advantage of the situation.

This past week (September 11-12, 2018), a total of nine individuals were caught in the operation, which took place in a fire-damaged home near Lake Redding Park. They now face a felony charge of contracting without a license in a declared disaster area (Business and Professions Code (BPC) § 7028.16a). In California, a contractor license is required for construction projects valued over $500. The penalty for this violation increases from a misdemeanor to a felony charge in disaster areas and has a potential penalty of up to three years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Bids received during the operation ranged from $1,020 for materials to rebuild a shed, to $30,000 to rebuild a carport. One of the nine caught, Patrick Tenerelli, is a revoked CSLB painting contractor, who now gave a bid for fencing.

During the citation process, DA officials searched all suspects and conducted a standard background check and discovered that Tenerelli is a current parolee who's record indicates he was booked for unlawful use of a firearm. He is facing an additional felony charge for illegally using a contractor license number (BPC §7027.3). Punishment for that charge may include a fine of up to $10,000, and up to one year in state prison, or both.

Additionally, Tenerelli and seven of the suspects may face a misdemeanor charge for illegal advertising (BPC § 7027.1). Operators without a license can advertise if the ad states that they are not a state-licensed contractor, and the type of work advertised for less than $500.

"It's clear that unlicensed contractors are itching for work, and what better way to find customers than going to an area where people are looking to rebuild," said CSLB Registrar David Fogt. "Disaster survivors can avoid the risks of hiring an unlicensed contractor by asking to see their license number and checking the license status using CSLB's Instant License Check. Property owners can also use CSLB's Find My Licensed Contractor feature to download and/or print a list of qualified licensed contractors in their area."

Tenerelli was also lacking workers' compensation insurance for his employees (Labor Code § 3700.5). As a condition of licensure, contractors must carry workers' compensation for all employees. This coverage insures that if a worker is injured on the homeowner's property, the consumer is not held liable.

Two individuals are also facing an additional felony charge for conspiracy to commit a crime (Penal Code (PEN) § 182). In California, those caught conspiring to commit a crime could face jailtime of up to nine years, or by both imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.

All offenders were ordered to appear in court at the Shasta County Superior Court, 1355 West Street, Redding, CA 96001.

NOTE: All suspects are presumed innocent until their case is resolved. The three suspects referred to the DA for additional investigation are not included in the chart below.

DAY 1
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION Preliminary Hearing Date
Gabriel Phillips
Redding
B-General Building Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal Advertising
TBD
Patrick Terenelli
Redding
C-13 – Fencing Contracting without a license,
Illegal Advertising,
No Workers’ Compensation,
Illegal Use of a Contractors License Number
October 4, 2018
Lou Hecker
Cottonwood
B-General Building Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal Advertising
TBD
Charles Harris
Anderson
B-General Building Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal Advertising,
Conspiracy
September 27, 2018
Jason Goodman
Cottonwood
B-General Building Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal Advertising,
Conspiracy
TBD
Ty Briggs
Redding
B-General Building Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal Advertising
TBD

DAY 2
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION Preliminary Hearing Date
Melvin Matajcich
Redding
B-General Building Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal Advertising
September 27, 2018
Samuel Shelby
Redding
C 21- Building Moving/Demolition Contractor Contracting without a license TBD
Brandon Hunter
Redding
B-General Building Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal Advertising
TBD

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.

CSLB encourages wildfire survivors to take their time, do thorough research, and avoid rushing into any repairs, no matter how badly they are needed. Visit CSLB's Disaster Help Center for more tips on rebuilding after a natural disaster.

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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