CSLB Cites Workers for Contracting Illegally and Violating Advertising Rules During Undercover Sting in Butte County


Thirteen suspects caught for violating contracting laws in Chico

SACRAMENTO – On October 24-25, 2018, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) conducted a sting operation in Chico, which resulted in over a dozen suspects being cited for illegal contracting. The individuals were initially identified by their illegal advertisements.

The CSLB Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) partnered with the Butte County District Attorney's Office and set-up shop at a single-family home near Wildwood Park. Investigators posed as homeowners and contacted alleged unlicensed contractors from their online advertisements and business cards posted at local home improvement stores. Of those contacted, 13 individuals came to place bids.

Ten of the suspects offered their services for prices ranging from nearly $1,000 for painting to $3,750 for a new concrete patio – well over the legal threshold for contracting without a license (Business and Professions Code (BPC) Section (§) 7028).

In California, a contractor license is required for construction projects valued over $500 for labor and materials combined. The penalty for a first-time misdemeanor conviction includes up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines.

"There's no telling if someone who is unlicensed has the skills, insurance, or knows the trade well enough to do the work and to do it right", said David Fogt, CSLB Registrar. "By using CSLB's free online tools like Find My Licensed Contractor or Check a License, homeowners can find a licensed contractor in their area and avoid the headache of hiring someone who could potentially take advantage of them."

The online and print advertisements, which initially tipped-off SWIFT to the suspects, could lead to misdemeanor charges for 11 individuals who neglected to state in their ads they were not licensed (BPC § 7027.1). Advertisements for unlicensed contractors must state that they are not a state-licensed contractor and the type of jobs advertised must be worth less than $500.

Prior to the operation, SWIFT investigators located online advertisements for five individuals who had been caught in a previous sting for illegal contracting. After further review, investigators found that all five have since obtained a contractor license and resolved their cases with the Butte County District Attorney. These individuals serve as an example of how the efforts of CSLB, in conjunction with partnering agencies, can lead contractors to become properly licensed.

CSLB will now forward the cases to the Butte County Attorney's Office with a recommendation for the criminal filings listed below. All suspects were ordered to appear in court on December 7, 2018 at 8:30 a.m. at the Butte County Superior Court, 1 Court Street, Oroville, CA 95965 (LINK).

CHICCO DAY 1
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Juan Rico-Araujo
Williams
C-27 Landscaping Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
William Stone Sr.
Chico
D-41 Siding and Decking Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Gary Fowler
Roseville
C-15 Flooring and Floor Covering Contracting without a license
Antonio Burgos III
Marysville
C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Illegal advertising
John Mulrennan
Paradise
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
John Wood
Durham
C-15 Flooring and Floor Covering Contracting without a license
Alberto Cabrera
Chico
D-6 Concrete-Related Services Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Kyle Madson
Chico
C-10 Electrical Illegal advertising

CHICCO DAY 2
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Phillip James
Gridley
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Yahamani Carmichael
Chico
C-27 Landscaping Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Robert Serna
Chico
C-13 Fencing Illegal advertising
Pierce Bales
Paradise
C-10 Electrical Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
James Rice
Chico
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

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.

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