More than a Dozen Caught in CSLB Riverside County Sting Proves Need to "Check The License First"


Fifteen cited for alleged illegal contracting, including eleven for illegal advertising, and three for excessive down payment

SACRAMENTO – On November 14-15, 2018, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) went undercover in Canyon Lake to catch unlicensed contractors placing high bids on home improvement projects. As a result, 15 people were issued notices to appear in court to answer charges of alleged illegal contracting. These citations serve as a warning to unlicensed contractors to get their license and as a reminder to homeowners to always hire a licensed contractor.

With help from the Riverside County District Attorney's Office, CSLB Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) members posed as homeowners and invited suspected unlicensed contractors to bid on projects at a single-family home near Roy W. Kabian Memorial Park. They compiled a list of individuals from online advertisements on popular social media and job posting sites, and business cards posted at local hardware stores.

Suspects were invited to the home to bid on work they claimed to specialize in through their advertisements. Bids ranged from $1,600 for building a wrought iron fence to $30,000 for installing synthetic turf.

In California, it's illegal for an unlicensed person to perform contracting work on any type of home improvement project valued at $500 or more in combined labor and material costs. As a result, the suspects could now face a misdemeanor charge of contracting without a license (Business and Professions Code (BPC) §7028). First-conviction penalties include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines. A second conviction carries a mandatory 90 days in jail. Penalties are more severe with successive violations.

"People will promote themselves as having years of contracting experience, but without the proper license there's no-way of telling whether or not the person is qualified or insured," said CSLB Registrar Dave Fogt. "That's why it's important for consumers do their research and hire only licensed contractors for home improvement jobs. Homeowners can also conduct a search on CSLB's website to find licensed contractors in their area using our free 'Find My Licensed Contractor' website feature."

Eleven suspects could face additional fines for their alleged illegal advertisements (BPC §7027.1). State law requires unlicensed contractors to reference in all advertising that they are not licensed, and licensed contractors must list their license number. Conviction of this violation could result in a fine of up to $1,000.

In addition, three of the bidders required an excessive down payment before starting work and were also written-up for that violation. It is illegal for contractors to ask for more than 10 percent down or $1,000, whichever is less (BPC §7159.5 (a)(3)(b)).

All offenders were ordered to appear in court at 7:30 a.m. on February 13-14, 2019, at the Riverside County Superior Court, 4050 Main St., Riverside, CA 92501.

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

DAY 1 - CANYON LAKE
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Ruben Nava
Hemet
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Manuel Guzman Retana
Perris
C-8 Concrete Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
Excessive Down Payment
Jose Manuel Campos
Perris
C-23 Ornamental Metal Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Excessive Down Payment
Leocadio Almazan Martinez
Anaheim
C-8 Concrete Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Jared Dee Ringwood
Menifee
D-12 Synthetic Products Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Sanghoon Lee
Temecula
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising

DAY 2 - CANYON LAKE
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Emmanuel Batista Vitte
Murrieta
D-12 Synthetic Products Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Francisco Vazquez Jr.
Lake Elsinore
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Robert Neil Yohe
Sidney, Montana
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
Excessive Down Payment
Harvey William Nelson III
Lake Elsinore
C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting Without a License
Aaron Brown
Chester, New York
C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting Without a License
William Avilez
Hemet
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Angel Ruiz Ruiz
Menifee
C-8 Concrete Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Ramon Villasenor
Homeland
C-8 Concrete Contractor Contracting Without a License
Juan L. Mendoza Franco
Murrieta
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising

CSLB encourages consumers to always "check the license first" before hiring a contractor by visiting www.cslb.ca.gov or by calling 800-321-CSLB (2752). CSLB has introduced a new website feature to help consumers start their search for a licensed contractor. The new "Find My Licensed Contractor" feature enables users to build a list of all licensed contractors, sorted by trade, in a specific geographic area.

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 2016-17, CSLB helped recover over $47 million in ordered restitution for consumers.

Sign Up For News Release Email Alerts

Please type in your email below and click submit.