Contractors State License Board undercover sting operation leads to 15 citations, including six contractors without workers’ comp


Contractors State License Board undercover sting operation leads to 15 citations, including six contractors without workers' comp

SACRAMENTO - Merced County homeowners should remember to take all the proper steps before hiring a contractor, including making sure they are licensed and checking for workers' compensation insurance when hiring contractors with employees. A recent Contractors State License Board (CSLB) undercover sting found several unlicensed contractors without workers' compensation, putting employees and homeowners at risk.

Fifteen people face possible citations after the CSLB undercover sting in Merced last week. Six of those cited didn't have workers' compensation insurance.

"Besides holding a CSLB license, workers must be covered by workers' compensation insurance," said CSLB Registrar David Fogt. "Without it, a homeowner may be liable for medical bills if someone gets hurt on their property."

A licensed contractor's workers' compensation insurance information can easily be found on CSLB's website using the "Instant License Check" feature.

Consumers can check a contractor's license by searching their license number, name, or business name. Besides workers' comp information, the search results also show whether the contractor's license is active and in good standing. The contractor's individual page also lists bond information and if CSLB has taken any actions against the contractor's license.

CSLB partnered with the Merced County District Attorney's Office to conduct the undercover operation. CSLB Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) members posed as owners of a commercial building and invited alleged unlicensed contractors to place bids on renovation work.

The highest bid of the February 19-20, 2020 operation was $7,800 for painting, well over the legal limit for contracting without a license. In California, it's illegal for an unlicensed person to bid for or perform any home improvement valued at $500 or more in combined labor and material costs.

Fourteen alleged unlicensed contractors gave bids for home improvement jobs, including electrical, flooring, and concrete work. They will be referred to the Merced County D.A.'s Office for 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.

Fourteen individuals also could face a misdemeanor charge for illegal advertising. 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.

When hiring a contractor, consumers should also remember:

  • Watch the down payment. The legal limit for a down payment is 10 percent of the contract price or $1,000, whichever is lower.
  • Always get three bids from licensed contractors before hiring anyone to perform home improvement work.
  • Use CSLB's "Find My Licensed Contractor" feature to build and download a list of qualified licensed contractors in their area.
  • Those interested in getting a contractor license are encouraged to attend one of our licensing workshops.

All suspects were ordered to appear at the Superior Court of California, County of Merced on April 1-2 at 8:30 a.m., 627 West 21st Street, Merced, CA 95340 (MAP).

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

MERCED DAY 1 - February 19, 2020

SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE
CLASSIFICATION
ALLEGED
VIOLATIONS
Carlos Humberto Gonzalez De La Torre
Winton
C-33 Painting Contractor
C-10 Electrical Contractor
Illegal advertising, contracting without a license
Enrique Garcia Lopez.
Atwater
C-15 Flooring and Floor Covering Contractor Illegal advertising, contracting without a license
Jerry Martin Guillen
Turlock
C-33 Painting Contractor Illegal advertising, contracting without a license, No workers' compensation
Ramiro Rodriguez Garcia
Patterson
C-15 Flooring and Floor Covering Contractor Illegal advertising, contracting without a license
Irais Leon Magana
Riverbank
C-33 Painting Contractor Illegal advertising, contracting without a license
Homanion Safi
Ceres
C-10 Electrical Contractor Illegal advertising, contracting without a license
David Valentine Vargas Leon
Livingston
C-15 Flooring and Floor Covering Contractor Illegal advertising, contracting without a license
Robert G. Vega
Merced
C-33 Painting Contractor Illegal advertising, contracting without a license, No workers' compensation
Jose Alvarez Echeverria
Modesto
C-8 Concrete Contractor Illegal advertising, contracting without a license
Francisco Javier Martinez
Modesto
C-15 Flooring and Floor Covering Contractor Illegal advertising, contracting without a license

MERCED DAY 2 - February 20, 2020

SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE
CLASSIFICATION
ALLEGED
VIOLATIONS
James Lee Walker
Newman
C-33 Painting Contractor Illegal advertising, contracting without a license
Paul Guzman
Patterson
C-33 Painting Contractor Illegal advertising, contracting without a license, No workers' compensation
Gustavo Gutierrez
Merced
C-33 Painting Contractor Illegal advertising, contracting without a license, No workers' compensation
Liliston Lopez Sanchez
Los Banos
C-33 Painting Contractor, Illegal advertising, contracting without a license, No workers' compensation
A1 Rayans General Construction
Modesto
C-33 Painting Contractor No workers' compensation

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 2018-2019, CSLB helped recover over $49 million in ordered restitution for consumers.

CSLB Media Contacts

Rick LopesChief of Public Affairs
916.255.4161
rick.lopes@cslb.ca.gov

Kevin DurawaInformation Officer
916.255.4693
kevin.durawa@cslb.ca.gov


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