CSLB Finds Contractors Without Licenses or Workers' Comp Insurance in Kern County


More than one dozen may now face illegal contracting charges

SACRAMENTO - Unlicensed contractors who arrived at a home ready to work got a surprise last week in Bakersfield when the "homeowner" turned out to be an undercover Contractors State License Board (CSLB) investigator. CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) netted 15 individuals who were cited on charges of illegal contracting in an undercover sting operation; ten did not have the state-required insurance for their workers and face additional charges for that violation of contractors' state license law.

SWIFT partnered with the California Department of Insurance (CDI) and the Kern County District Attorney's Office and coordinated the sting, which was conducted at a single-family home near Fruitvale Norris Park on February 21-22, 2018.

Suspected unlicensed operators were invited to place bids for exterior and interior projects, including concrete work, painting, flooring, replacing tile, pool pump services, and plumbing. Most of the referrals came from online advertisements. Fifteen alleged unlicensed contractors placed bids that ranged from $750 for concrete services to $5,700 for painting the exterior of the home, which resulted in citations for all the suspects.

In California, all home improvement jobs totaling $500 or more in combined labor and material costs must be performed by a licensed contractor (Business and Professions Code (BPC) § 7028). First-conviction penalties for contracting without a license include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines; successive convictions bring harsher penalties.

Ten of the suspects did not carry workers' compensation (WC) insurance policies to cover those working for them (Labor Code section 3700.5). One of these cases resulted in a "stop order" (a legal demand to cease all employee labor at a job site), as the unlicensed individual brought his hired help with him to the home.

"Homeowners take a huge risk when they hire unlicensed contractors," cautioned CSLB Registrar Dave Fogt. "They are potentially liable if an unlicensed individual gets hurt on their property. Plus, recourse for homeowners is limited if the person's work is substandard or never completed."

Fourteen of the alleged unlicensed contractors received an additional citation for illegal advertising. The penalty for violating the advertising rules for unlicensed contractors is a fine of $700 to $1,000 (BPC § 7027.1). Licensed contractors must display their license number in all advertisements; unlicensed contractors must state in all ads that they do not have a license.

Two of the bidders required an excessive down payment before starting work and were also written-up for that violation. For home improvement projects contractors cannot ask for more than 10 percent down or $1,000, whichever is less (BPC §7159.5 (a)(3)(b)).

Those cited are scheduled to appear April 24, 2018, at Kern County Superior Court (MAP), 1215 Truxtun Avenue, Bakersfield, CA.

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

DAY 1
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
David Michael Wiggins
Bakersfield
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
No Workers' Compensation
Loren E. Stabile
Bakersfield
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
No Workers' Compensation
Eddie Gene Fowler
Bakersfield
C-15 Flooring and Floor Covering Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Ronald Dean Reece
Bakersfield
C-15 Flooring and Floor Covering Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Jose Juan Rios Villegas Jr.
Bakersfield
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertisement
Excessive Downpayment,
No Workers' Compensation
Dimas Bibian Hernandez-Lopez
Bakersfield
D-35 Pool and Spa Maintenance Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
No Workers' Compensation
Jose D. Villapando Rodriguez
Bakersfield
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Paul Gonzalez
Tulare
C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
No Workers' Compensation

DAY 2
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
James Eugene Cody
Bakersfield
D-6 Concrete Services Contracting Without a License,
No Workers' Compensation
Donnie Ray Hughes
Bakersfield
D-6 Concrete Services Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
No Workers Compensation
Jared Chandler Parks
Bakersfield
D-35 Pool and Spa Maintenance Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
Excessive Downpayment
Joel Arnoldo Hernandez Jimenez
Bakersfield
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Gary Lee Ford
Bakersfield
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
No Workers Compensation
Randy Britton Jr. Hynson
Taft
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
No Workers Compensation
Joseph Dominus Stebbins
Ridgecrest
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
No Workers Compensation

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.

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