Criminal charges have been filed against seven unlicensed contractors for various Business and Professions Code violations stemming from an undercover sting during the month of October, Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced today.
Ravitch said the sting was a joint operaiton with the Contractor’s State License Board (CSLB) and the Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (Swift).
"A single-family residence was used as a prop to obtain construction and landscaping estimates to determine if the contractor was properly representing himself and whether the proposed contracts were executed correctly," Ravitch said.
"The operation targeted suspected unlicensed contractors identified from CSLB complaints, law enforcement agency referrals and local advertisements," said added.
Any contractor who advertises or presents a business card offering to do any construction or works of improvement must delineate his contractor’s license number or include the written wording: “Not State Licensed.”
Contractors are also mandated to limit requested down payments and to be bonded.
“There are several basic ways in which a person who is hiring a contractor can guard against fraud or a history of poor workmanship," Ravitch said. "Prior to hiring a contractor, simply ask for and verify that the contractor is licensed.
"The license number can easily be verified by calling the CSLB at 1-800-321-2752," she said. "Always require that the work and cost of the job be detailed in a written contract.
"If the contractor is demanding a down payment, that payment should be limited to 10 percent of the total contract or $1,000, whichever is LESS," Ravitch added.
"After requesting at least three references, call each reference to ensure the contractor performed satisfactorily," she said. " Lastly, the contractor should also provide the owner a “Notice to Owner” which describes how liens can be placed on the owner’s home even if the contractor has been paid in full but has not paid laborers, subcontractors, or material suppliers.”
The seven arrested are:
1. Jorge Flores Castel, dba “A Home Specialist”
2. David Curtis Smith, dba “Sierra Tree Sculpting”
3. Angel Lopez Castillejos, dba “Angel’s Landscaping & Maintenance”
4. Eric Mendoza, dba “Town and Country Landscape Maintenance”
5. Jaime Cuevan-Ramirez, dba “Jimmy’s Outdoor Works:
6. Canh Van Duh, dba “East Bay Pool & Landscape and Evergreen Construction”
7. Everardo Zuniga, dba “Gutter Busters”
Each of the arrested unlicensed contractors will be arraigned in court at the Hall of Justice on Jan. 7.