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While California added more construction jobs than any other state over the last year*, the Contractors State License Board’s (CSLB) latest undercover sting indicates there’s no slowing down in the number of people trying to work under the radar by illegally contracting without a state license.

During a two-day sting operation last week (October 19-20, 2016) in Folsom (Sacramento County), investigators from CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) cited 35 people for various illegal contracting charges. 

In California, anyone who offers home improvement-related services totaling $500 or more in labor and/or materials needs to have a state contractor’s license (Business and Professions Code (BPC) section (¤) 7028). During this operation, bids ranged from $900 for power washing to $15,100 for replacing exterior stucco.

SWIFT investigators, with assistance from the Folsom Police Department  and Folsom Code Enforcement  invited suspected unlicensed contractors to give bids for home improvement projects for a single-family home near Folsom Middle School.

What happened over the next few hours highlights the risks consumers take if they’re not cautious of whom they hire to work in and around their homes. One of the suspects caught had recently been released from prison after serving seven years for attempted murder. Another suspect was in possession of an illegal loaded firearm. Five others also were caught in previous CSLB sting operations.

In another case, SWIFT investigators targeted a suspect who was on the cover of a local business magazine promoting his “successful” electrical/handyman business. The magazine also included a coupon for the company with a license number not issued by CSLB.

 A total of 25 suspects were given a notice to appear (NTA) in court to face misdemeanor charges of contracting without a license.

“It is easy for people to self-promote and advertise their businesses, but an online or print advertisement does not ensure they’re legitimate,” said CSLB Registrar Cindi Christenson.  “It is very important for consumers to do their homework and verify every contractor’s license on CSLB’s website or by calling our toll-free automated phone line.”

Twenty-one people were also cited for illegal advertising. Unlicensed operators must state in the ad that they do not have a state license, and can only advertise for types of jobs that total less than $500 (BPC¤ 7027.2).

Two suspects may face felony charges after they were caught using a contractor license number that did not belong to them without permission. That charge carries a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to one year in state prison or county jail (BPC¤ 7027.3).

 Two were cited for suspects who weren’t properly registered with CSLB as home improvement salespersons (HIS). Anyone who solicits, sells, negotiates, or executes home improvement contracts for a licensed contractor outside of the contractor’s normal place of business must be registered with CSLB as an HIS (BPC¤ 7153).

While the operation did target suspected unlicensed contractors, eight licensed contractors will now face administrative citations for other violations of contractor law. Five for not including their license numbers in their advertisements (BPC¤ 7030.5); two for working in a classification not covered by their license (BPC¤ 7117.6); one for aiding and abetting an unlicensed person (BPC¤ 7114); and one for employing an unregistered salesperson (BPC¤ 7114).

Those given an NTA are scheduled to appear at 8:30 a.m. in Sacramento County Superior Court, 720 9th Street, Sacramento, CA 958421.

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

SUSPECT NAME,CITY OF RESIDENCE, LICENSE, CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED, VIOLATIONS

Anthony Earl Melson
Sacramento
C-33  – Painting and Decorating 
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

Zachary Ryan Husarick
Roseville
C-8 – Concrete
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
Illegal use of another contractor’s license without permission

Marcos Palacios-Martinez
San Rafael
C-54 – Ceramic and Mosaic Tile
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

Patrick Richard Beals
Ione
C-13 – Fencing
Contracting without a license

Bradley Scott Heisel
Lincoln
C-61/D-49 – Tree Service
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

Gabriel Jamaar Cullen
Sacramento
C-23 – Ornamental Metal
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

Valarie Lynn Carvahal Villaviencio
Sacramento
C-8 – Concrete
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

Elisco Rafael Garcia
Sacramento
C-54 – Ceramic and Mosaic Tile
Contracting without a license

Jose Israel Caseres Aguilera
Sacramento
C-33  – Painting and Decorating
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

Carlos M. Canas
Sacramento
C-61/D-49 – Tree Service
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

Shawn Michael Wrigley
Pollock Pines
C-43 – Sheet Metal
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

Victor Chavez Alejandre
Sacramento
C-54 – Ceramic and Mosaic Tile
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

Carrasco Hever
Sacramento
C-54 – Ceramic and Mosaic Tile
Contracting without a license

Ted Bernard Neumaier
Sacramento
C-15 – Flooring and Floor Covering
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

Tuavo Tuiletoa
Sacramento
C-61/D-49 – Tree Service
Unregistered Salesperson

Ryan Murray
Shingle Springs
C-36 – Plumbing
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

Christian Kyle Stewart
Sacramento
C-15 – Flooring and Floor Covering
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

Rofino Alexander Alfaro Moran
Sacramento
C-61/D-49 – Tree Service
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

Oggler Neptali Vazquez Gonzales
Shingle Springs
C-61/D-49 – Tree Service
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

Charles Rendon
Pioneer
C-13 – Fencing
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
Illegal use of another contractor’s license without permission

Phillip Stewart Faucet
Sacramento
C-13 – Fencing
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

John Andrew Trujillo
Antelope
C-54 – Ceramic and Mosaic Tile
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

Bassem Roaf Hana
Rocklin
C-61/ D-28 – Doors, Gates, and Activating Devices
Unregistered salesperson

Cory Jennings
Lincoln
C-61/D-38 – Sand and Water Blasting
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

Truman Hubert Coleman
Roseville
C-54 – Ceramic and Mosaic Tile
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

Lorenzo Julio Chavez
Antelope
C-36 – Plumbing
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

Jose Jimenez Lopez
Sacramento
C-27-Landscaping
Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
 
* Associated General Contractors State Employment Data (September 2015-September 2016)

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 2015-16, CSLB helped recover about $41 million in ordered restitution for consumers.

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