SACRAMENTO – The majority of those caught contracting without a license in a Contractors State License Board (CSLB) undercover sting will either go on to get a contractors’ license, or find another line of work. Some though, will keep trying to stay one step in front of the law.
That was the case for three of the 20 suspects CSLB investigators caught in an undercover operation in Fresno last week (November 16-17, 2016). Two of those suspects were caught in previous stings. One was caught twice; the other didn’t show up in court to face charges the first time, so went to jail this time on a no-bail warrant that was issued.
A third suspect had his contractor’s license revoked last month after being convicted of a crime substantially related to the qualifications, functions, and duties of a contractor (Business and Professions Code (BPC) section (§) 7123).
In the sting operation, CSLB investigators, with the assistance of the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office and California Highway Patrol, posed as owners of a single-family home near the San Joaquin Country Club and invited suspected unlicensed contractors to place bids on home improvement projects.
Bids ranged from $1,000 for a new concrete slab to $8,500 for exterior painting. A state-issued contractor license is required for any home improvement job that is $500 or more in combined labor and material costs. All twenty of the individuals caught during the sting operation were given a notice to appear in court for a possible charge of contracting without a license (BPC § 7028).
“One of our goals in these sting operations is to get the people who will make good contractors licensed,” said CSLB Registrar Cindi Christenson. “Unfortunately, some are willing to take their chances and put homeowners at risk.”
Seventeen of those 20 may also face a charge of illegal advertising. California law requires unlicensed contractors to state in all advertising that they are not licensed (BPC §7027.1).
Four individuals may face an additional charge of failing to carry workers’ compensation insurance for employees (Labor Code §3700.5), which puts workers at risk of not being covered if they are injured and homeowners at risk of being held responsible for onsite injuries. Two suspects may face a charge of requesting an excessive down payment (BPC §7159.5 (a)(3)(b)). In California, a down payment for home improvement projects can be no more than 10 percent of the total contract price or $1,000, whichever is less.
Those cited are scheduled to appear at 8:30 a.m., February 7, 2017 or February 8, 2017, in Fresno County Superior Court, 1100 Van Ness Ave., Room 402.