While Lake County Focuses on Rebuilding, CSLB Finds Unlicensed Contractors Trying to Get Other Home Improvement Jobs


Homeowners Reminded to Make Sure Contractors are Properly Licensed for All Jobs Over $500

SACRAMENTO – Over the past three years, upwards of 2,000 homes have been destroyed in different parts of Lake County by no less than eight devastating wildfires. A lot of attention has focused on protecting fire survivors from being victimized by unlicensed or unscrupulous contractors trying to take advantage of people during the rebuilding process.

But, that doesn't mean folks not directly affected by wildfires should let down their guard when hiring someone for home improvement work. On October 23, 2018, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) partnered with the Lake County District Attorney's Office to conduct an undercover sting operation targeting suspected unlicensed contractors near the fire zones.

During the one-day operation, in a home near Copsey Creek, CSLB investigators invited suspected unlicensed contractors to provide bids for home improvement jobs ranging from painting, tree removal or trimming, to building a deck.

Ten people showed-up and provided undercover investigators bids that ranged from $800 to $4,000, well in excess of the $500 threshold (labor and/or materials) above which a state-issued contractor license is necessary.

As a result, these suspects were cited and could be charged with a misdemeanor count of contracting without a license (Business and Professions Code (BPC) section 7028). The penalty for a first-conviction includes up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines.

Five of the suspects may also face a misdemeanor charge for illegal advertising (BPC §7027.1). Unlicensed contractors can only advertise if the ad states that they are not a state-licensed contractor, and the type of jobs advertised for are worth less than $500.

“Consumers should be sure to take some simple steps before hiring anyone to work in or around their home," said CSLB Registrar David Fogt. “The fastest way is to make sure they have a state license, and to check the license status using CSLB's Instant License Check. Homeowners should also use CSLB's Find My Licensed Contractor feature to download and/or print a list of qualified licensed contractors in their area."

CSLB will now forward the cases to the Lake County District Attorney's Office with a recommendation for the criminal filings listed below. All suspects were ordered to appear in court on Tuesday, December 11, 2018, at 8:15 a.m. at the Lake County Superior Court, 255 North Forbes Street, Lakeport, CA 95453 (LINK).

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

SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Jorge Manuel Vieira, Sr.
Clearlake
C33 - Painting and Decorating Contracting Without a License
Jose Angel Gonzalez-Castro
Nice
C61/D49 Tree Service Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Salvador Estrada
Upper Lake
C61/D49 Tree Service Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Elijah Wesley Forrey
Clearlake
C61/D49 Tree Service Contracting Without a License
Dave Edward Elliston, Sr.
Upper Lake
C33 - Painting and Decorating Contracting Without a License
Ronald Dean Ridley, Sr.
Clearlake Oaks
C33 - Painting and Decorating Contracting Without a License
Shane Lee Boyd
Nice
C61/D49 Tree Service Contracting Without a License
Jesus Tecpoyot Pantaleon
Finley
C61/D41 – Siding and Decking Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Ronny Raymond Waddell
Lakeport
C33 - Painting and Decorating Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Robert John Rudolph
Kelseyville
C61/D41 – Siding and Decking Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising

CSLB conducts an average of one sting each week around the state to protect consumers, help level the playing field for legitimate contractors, and to curb the underground economy. Visit CSLB's website for more tips on how to hire a licensed contractor.

The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. CSLB licenses and regulates over 280,000 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 more than $50 million in ordered restitution for consumers.

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