CSLB Sacramento County Undercover Sting Exposes Fraudulent Use of Contractor Licenses


Twenty-eight suspects caught contracting allegedly illegally in Folsom operation

SACRAMENTO – Last week, investigators from the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) went undercover in Folsom to catch unlicensed contractors in the act. Among the 28 suspects who came to bid on home improvement work were Pedro Martin Vargas Paez, Kyle Raymond Ferreira, and Howard Franklin Muniz III. Each of the three suspects was caught allegedly advertising a license number that does not belong to him and now face possible felony charges.

On November 27-28, 2018, with help from the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, SWIFT investigators invited alleged unlicensed contractors to bid on home improvement projects at a single-family home near the Mercy Hospital of Folsom. Twenty-eight unlicensed suspects came to bid on projects, such as painting, tree removal, flooring, fencing, laying concrete, and installing drywall.

Bids from the 28 individuals ranged from $1,000 for labor to install new flooring to $7,500 for painting the interior of the home – well over the legal threshold for contracting without a license.

In California, it's illegal for an unlicensed person to perform any contracting work on a 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(b)). First-conviction penalties include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines.

Three of the suspects, who have been caught in previous stings and were convicted, could face second conviction penalties, which may result in 90 days in jail and a fine of 20 percent of the contract price or $5,000, whichever is greater (BPC §7028(c)).

Paez, Ferreira, and Muniz could face an additional felony charge for illegally using a contractor license number that does not belong to them, which carries a fine of up to $10,000 and/or a one-year jail sentence (BPC §7027.3).

Twenty-four others could face an additional misdemeanor charge for illegal advertising. Licensed contractors must display their license number in all advertisements and all unlicensed contractors must state in all ads that they do not have a license. (BPC §7027.1) The penalty for violating the advertising rules for unlicensed contractors is a fine of $700 to $1,000.

“These individuals are not only contracting illegally, but they are taking an extra step to swindle consumers by leading them to think they are legitimately licensed,” said CSLB Registrar David Fogt. “Homeowners should ask to see the contractor’s ‘pocket license’ or their representative’s ‘Home Improvement Salesperson’ registration and a photo ID. All contractors are issued pocket licenses that show the type of trade for which they are licensed, and the license expiration date.”

Consumers can also use CSLB’s free online tools like ‘Find My Licensed Contractor’ to find a licensed contractor in their area and the ‘Check a License’ feature and avoid the headache of hiring someone who could potentially take advantage of them.

In addition to these violations, four people were cited for requiring an excessive down payment (BPC § 7159.5). It's illegal for contractors to ask for more than 10 percent down or $1,000 for home improvement projects, whichever is less.

One person could face additional penalties for lacking the proper workers’ compensation insurance policies (Labor Code section 3700.5). California law requires that all employers carry workers' compensation insurance, even if they have only one employee. This suspect also received a “stop-order” – a legal demand to cease all employee labor at a job site for violating workers’ compensation laws.

All offenders from the Folsom sting were ordered to appear in court at a future date and time at the Sacramento County Superior Court, 720 9th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814.

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

FOLSOM DAY 1 – NOVEMBER 27, 2018
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Daniel Jay Vago
Jackson
C15 - Flooring and Floor Covering Contractors Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Richard Stebbins
Sacramento
C-8 - Concrete Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
Excessive Down Payment
Todd D Hodges
Citrus Heights
C33 - Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Pedro Martin Vargas Paez
Sacramento
C-13 Fencing Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
Illegal Use of Contractor’s License Number
Kyle Raymond Ferreira
Grass Valley
C54 - Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
Illegal Use of Contractor’s License Number
Iulian Rodin Plaiasu
Bella Vista
C-61 Limited Specialty Classification
D-49 Tree Service Contractor
Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Ricardo David Perez
Sacramento
C-13 Fencing Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Chistien Raymond
Sacramento
C-13 Fencing Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Andrew Benjamin Nix
Carmichael
C15 - Flooring and Floor Covering Contractors Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Steven David McAllen
Carmichael
C15 - Flooring and Floor Covering Contractors Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Juan Fernando Xiloj Marcos
Sacramento
C33 - Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Howard Franklin III Muniz
Antelope
C-61 Limited Specialty Classification
D-49 Tree Service Contractor
Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
Illegal Use of Contractor’s License Number
Timothy Fries
Sacramento
C9 - Drywall Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
Excessive Down Payment,
No Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Thomas John Nafziger
Sacramento
C9 - Drywall Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Jefferey Alan Isbell
Sacramento
C-13 Fencing Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Manuel Vincent Lopez
El Dorado
C-13 Fencing Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising

FOLSOM DAY 2 – NOVEMBER 28, 2018
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Don Hill
Sacramento
C-23 Ornamental Metal Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Darren Daniel Lang
Citrus Heights
C-61 Limited Specialty Classification,
D-49 Tree Service Contractor
Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Damon William Eckert
Fair Oaks
C-61 Limited Specialty Classification,
D-49 Tree Service Contractor
Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
J Jesus Sanchez Gonzalez
Sacramento
C-13 Fencing Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Daniel Jonathan Nicholson
Sacramento
C-13 Fencing Contractor Contracting Without a License
Kenneth A. Donald
Sacramento
C-13 Fencing Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Eric Goodwin Hall
North Highlands
C33 - Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Jeremy Ray Gravert
Roseville
C-13 Fencing Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
Excessive Down Payment
Phil Randolph Zacarias
Rocklin
C-8 - Concrete Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Eliseo Alonso-Andres
Sacramento
C33 - Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting Without a License
Ashley Lynn Koss
San Francisco
C33 - Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Erick Sosa
Sacramento
C33 - Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
Excessive Down Payment

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 2017-18, CSLB helped recover over $50 million in ordered restitution for consumers.

Sign Up For News Release Email Alerts

Please type in your email below and click submit.