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'Border Blitz' Nails 17 Contractors

Friday, May 1, 2015

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SACRAMENTO—Fly-by-night painters, pavers, carpenters and other contractors skirting licensing laws are now facing criminal charges after a roundup by authorities in two states.

Contractor licensing boards in California and Nevada teamed up April 27 for their fourth joint sting operation targeting phony contractors who operate illegally on either or both sides of the states' border.

Billed as a "Border Blitz," the one-day enforcement action by the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) and Nevada State Contractors Board (NSCB) featured simultaneous stings in South Lake Tahoe, CA, and Stateline, NV.

Bids Sought

By the end of the day, five unlicensed contractors in South Lake Tahoe and 12 in Stateline had been cited.

ContractorSting
CSLB

A California licensing board investigator (right) takes bid information from a suspected illegal contractor at a sting April 27 in South Lake Tahoe.

At each sting location—a home in California and a condo in Nevada—investigators from the respective board posed as homeowners seeking bids for construction improvements.

Using leads developed mostly from Craigslist and local bulletin board ads, investigators in South Lake Tahoe developed a list of suspected illegal contractors and asked for bids on exterior painting, paver installation, demolition, and decking in South Lake Tahoe. In Stateline, bids were sought for interior painting.

By the Numbers

The five California suspects submitted bids that exceeded $500, the threshold that requires a contractor license in California. The top bid was $3,000 to replace a deck. Each suspect was issued a notice to appear in court on misdemeanor charges.

In Nevada, electricians, HVAC and plumbing contractors must be licensed, regardless of the project’s cost. For other contractors, a license is required for projects that total $1,000 (labor and materials).

At the Nevada site, the high bid was $4,800 to paint the interior of the two-story condo.

The California suspects were cited for contracting without a license; three face an additional charge of illegal advertising. One man was caught using a relative’s contractor license and was cited for violating the state's code on fraudulent use of licensing numbers.

'A United Stand'

A representative of each state's board observed the operation in the other state, officials said.

MargiGrein CindiChristenson
Twitter (left); CSLB (right)

Nevada's and California's contractor licensing boards collaborate on application and enforcement, say Nevada chief Margi Grein (left) and California's Cindi Christenson.

"Our boards have had a united stand against illegal contracting for quite some time—from board member collaboration to field investigations of contractors who have hurt consumers in both states,” said Cindi A. Christenson, an attorney and mechanical engineer who heads the California licensing board.

“Both boards look for opportunities to send a joint message that we will not tolerate contractors who try to take advantage of the public.”

Margi Grein, Christenson's counterpart in Nevada, called unlicensed contracting “a serious crime targeting homeowners across all state borders.

In addition to cooperating on enforcement, California and Nevada maintain a reciprocity agreement that simplifies the application process for contractors seeking licensing in both states. However, a license in one state is not valid in the other.

   

Tagged categories: Contractors State License Board; Enforcement; Laws and litigation; Licensing; Painting Contractors; Residential contractors

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