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Painters, Others Caught in Sting

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

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Nearly 20 California-based contractors, including painters and flooring professionals, were arrested in the state’s latest undercover sting operation to crack down on off-the-book operators.

The roundup, organized by the Contractors State License Board’s Investigative Fraud Team, was conducted June 29-30 in Visalia, CA, according to a recent press announcement.

Investigators from the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office and Visalia Police Department officers provided assistance.

Visalia, CA
Visalia2010 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

The undercover stings were executed June 29-30 at a residence in Visalia, CA.

The suspects nabbed in the sting provided bids for exterior painting, wood flooring and concrete work at a residence where investigators posed as homeowners.

Bids came in considerably more than the legal limit of $500, including one at $4,500.

Contractors Charged

Investigators cited 19 suspects whose bids exceeded the state cap for contracting without a state license. In California, all home improvement jobs valued at $500 or more (combined labor and material costs) must be conducted by a person or company with a CSLB-issued license.

The penalty for a conviction is up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

Of those persons cited, 16 face an additional misdemeanor charge of illegal advertising. Under state law, contractors are required to place their license number in all print, broadcast, and online advertisements. Those without a license can advertise to perform jobs valued at less than $500, but the ad must state that they are not a licensed contractor.

The penalty is a fine of $700 to $1,000.

In addition to those charges, three men were cited for not having workers’ compensation insurance; three for demanding excessive down payments; and another was caught for displaying a contractor license that did not belong to him.

Cited, Again

Two of the suspects caught in the sting had histories with the CSLB.

An unlicensed contracting case against one of the suspects arising out of a 2015 homeowner complaint to CSLB has been referred to the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office for criminal prosecution. Another suspect had been previously caught in a 2015 CSLB sting and is facing misdemeanor illegal contracting charges relating to that case.

All suspects were scheduled to appear Sept. 1 in Tulare County Superior Court.

Underground Economy

“Illegal contractors contribute to California’s $140 billion underground economy,” according to CSLB Registrar Cindi Christenson.

The CSLB licenses and regulates California’s 300,000 contractors, and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States.

   

Tagged categories: Certifications and standards; Contractors; Contractors State License Board; Licensing; Painters

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