CSLB Busts Three Repeat Offenders During Dual Central and SoCal Undercover Operations


Twenty-nine suspects caught contracting illegally in Bakersfield and Lompoc

SACRAMENTO – Last week, investigators from Contractors State License Board (CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT), with help from local law enforcement, went undercover in the Bakersfield and Lompoc areas to catch unlicensed contractors in the act. Amid the 29 suspects who came to bid on home improvement work were Kenneth Ray Shehee, Daniel Benedict Cerna, and David Michael Wiggins. Each of these three suspects had been caught in previous stings, are unlicensed, and continued to skirt the law while putting homeowners at risk.

With help from the Kern County District Attorney’s Office and the California Department of Insurance SWIFT investigators invited alleged unlicensed contractors to bid on home improvement projects at a single-family home in Bakersfield. Fourteen suspects came to provide bids on projects like laying ceramic tile, painting the exterior of the home, and installing a gate.

Investigators in Lompoc teamed up with the Santa Barbara County Sherriff's Department and the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office Bureau of Investigation. Fifteen alleged unlicensed suspects came to the sting site, a home located near the Village Country Club, to bid on projects such as painting the interior, landscaping, and plumbing.

Bids from the 29 suspects ranged from $900 for building a gate to $10,900 for painting and installing new flooring – well over the legal threshold for contracting without a license.

In California, it's illegal for an unlicensed person to perform any contracting work on a 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(b)). First-conviction penalties include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines.

Suspects Shehee, Cerna, and Wiggins could face second conviction penalties, which may result in 90 days in jail, and a fine of 20 percent of the contract price or $5,000, whichever is greater (BPC §7028(c)).

Twenty-five individuals, including suspects Shehee and Cerna, could face an additional misdemeanor charge for their illegal advertisements. 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.

"These suspects are knowingly working illegally, putting unsuspecting homeowners on the hook for property damages or injuries, and are undercutting legitimate contractors who comply with contracting and labor laws and regulations," said CSLB Registrar David Fogt. "By using CSLB's free online tools like 'Find My Licensed Contractor' or our 'Check a License' feature, homeowners can find a licensed contractor in their area and avoid the headache of hiring someone who could potentially be taking advantage of them."

Suspects Shehee, Cerna and Wiggins, along with nine others, could face additional penalties for lacking the proper workers' compensation insurance policies (Labor Code section 3700.5). California law requires that all employers carry workers' compensation insurance, even if they have only one employee.

In addition to these violations, five people were cited 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.

All offenders from the Bakersfield sting were ordered to appear in court on November 13, 2018, at 8:30 a.m. at the Kern County Superior Court (MAP), 1215 Truxten Avenue, Division G, Bakersfield CA, 93301.

All offenders from the Lompoc sting were ordered to appear in court on November 27-28, 2018, at 8:00 a.m. at the Santa Barbara Superior Court (MAP), 118 E. Figueroa Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101.

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.

BAKERSFIELD DAY 1
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Kenneth Ray Shehee
Bakersfield
C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
No Workers' Compensation
Daniel Benedict Cerna
Bakersfield
C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
No Workers' Compensation
David Michael Wiggins
Bakersfield
C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting without a license,
No Workers' Compensation
Jose Antonio Quel Cante
Bakersfield
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
No Workers' Compensation,
Excessive Down Payment
Edwin Osvaldo Alvarez
Bakersfield
C-15 Flooring and Floor Covering Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
No Workers' Compensation
Marvin Yancarlos Vides Morales
Bakersfield
C-27 Landscaping Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
No Workers' Compensation
Rogelio Aldaco
Bakersfield
D-28 Doors, Gates, and Activating Devices Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

BAKERSFIELD DAY 2
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
David Cahuana Hinojosa
Bakersfield
C-27 Landscaping Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
No Workers' Compensation,
Excessive Down Payment
Emmanuel Lozada Gonzalez
Caliente
C-8 Concrete Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
No Workers' Compensation
Jerry Wayne Dickinson
Bakersfield
C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
No Workers' Compensation
Joseph Christopher Digiacomo
Bakersfield
C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
No Workers' Compensation,
Excessive Down Payment
Jason Edward Barnes
Bakersfield
C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Danny Macias
Bakersfield
C-15 Flooring and Floor Covering Contractor,
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contractor
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
No Workers' Compensation
Leonel Jimenez-Nava
Bakersfield
C-29 Masonry Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
No Workers' Compensation,
Excessive Down Payment

LOMPOC DAY 1
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Orestes Chavez Iribarren
Lompoc
C-27 Landscaping Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Robert David French
Arroyo Grande
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Maximo Valencia Reyes
Santa Barbara
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Crisoforo Campuzano Olmos
Goleta
C-15 Flooring and Floor Covering Contractor,
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contractor
Contracting without a license
Carlos Mondragon
Oxnard
C-15 Flooring and Floor Covering Contractor,
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contractor
Contracting without a license
Ted Doupe
Santa Maria
D-49 Tree Service Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Raymond Leroy Carper
Arroyo Grande
D-49 Tree Service Contractor Contracting without a license
Steven Edgar Kennedy
Lompoc
C-36 Plumbing Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Jesus Vences Pena
Carpinteria
C-27 Landscaping Contractor
D-49 Tree Service Contractor
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

LOMPOC DAY 2
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Matthew Jack Dudley
Lompoc
C-27 Landscaping Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Carlos Venegas-Hernandez
Santa Maria
C-27 Landscaping Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Cipriano Alamillo Meza
Santa Paula
C-15 Flooring and Floor Covering Contractor,
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contractor
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Juan Alvarez
Santa Maria
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
Excessive Down Payment
Jose Luis A. Zepeda
Solvang
C-27 Landscaping Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Cesar Cervantes Mora
Lompoc
C-27 Landscaping Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

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 2017-18, CSLB helped recover more than $50 million in ordered restitution for consumers.


Archives: 2019 2018