Contractors State License Board Undercover Sting Finds No Shortage of Unlicensed Contractors in Contra Costa County


Homeowners urged to check licenses before hiring people to work in/around their homes

SACRAMENTO – For a time, a home in Oakley could have used a revolving front door. That’s because a seemingly endless string of unlicensed contractors showed up there, ready to give a bid for home improvement work that requires a state license. Investigators issued a total of 25 Notices to Appear (NTA) in court to potentially face criminal charges.

On October 10-11, 2018, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) teamed with the Oakley Police Department to conduct an undercover sting operation targeting suspected unlicensed contractors.

CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) identified potential suspects in a variety of ways, including ads on several social media apps, and invited them to go out to a home near Big Break Regional Shoreline to give a bid for the type of home improvement job they advertised.

Twenty-four of the suspects could be charged with a misdemeanor count of 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-conviction includes up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines.

Bids received during the operation ranged from $1,800 for new sod and concrete, to $25,000 for installation of artificial turf, well over the legal threshold for contracting without a license. Other bids included installation of new laminate flooring, pavers, exterior painting, and a full kitchen remodel.

Twenty-three 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 is worth less than $500.

One of the suspects who could face both of those charges, Garrett Anthony Gallo, is also a registered sex offender. In 1999 CSLB issued an administrative citation to Gallo for contracting without a license. Gallo paid the associated $200 penalty.

“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. They should also use CSLB’s Find My Licensed Contractor feature to download and/or print a list of qualified licensed contractors in their area."

Six of the suspects may also face a charge for requiring an illegally large down payment (BPC § 7159.5). Down payments for home improvement jobs in California cannot total more than 10% of the contract price, or $1,000, whichever figure is less.

Three suspects who did not have a worker’s compensation policy for employees were issued a Stop Order (BPC § 7127), and may also be charged with violating Labor Code Section 3700.5. As a condition of licensure, contractors must carry workers' compensation for all employees. This coverage insures that if a worker is injured on the homeowner's property, the consumer is not held liable.

Additionally, one suspect may be charged for working as an unregistered salesperson (BPC § 7153).

All suspects were ordered to appear in court on Monday, December 3, 2018 at 8:30 a.m. at the Pittsburg Superior Court, 1000 Center Drive, Pittsburg, CA 94565 (MAP).

The cases will now be forwarded to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office with a recommendation for criminal filings.

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

DAY 1 - OCTOBER 10, 2018
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Oto Emili Tangitan
Antioch
C-8 - Concrete Contractor Illegal advertising,
Illegal Use of Contractor’s License Number,
Contracting without a license,
No Workers' Compensation Insurance
Juan Pinon
Oakley
C27 - Landscaping Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
No Workers' Compensation Insurance
Garrett Anthony Gallo
Walnut Creek
C33 - Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Antonio R Guzman
Antioch
C-8 - Concrete Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Larry Wilkes Jr.
Bay Point
C33 - Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
Excessive Down Payment
Gable Jackson Payne
Danville
C15 - Flooring and Floor Covering Contractors Unregistered Salesperson
Alvaro Carrillo
Oakley
C61/D12 – Synthetic Products Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Ronald Patrick Benner, Jr.
Antioch
C33 - Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
Excessive Down Payment,
No Workers' Compensation Insurance
Michael Stephen Farber
Antioch
C10 - Electrical Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Tuiono Tovo Malakai
San Lorenzo
C-8 - Concrete Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Alberto Ojeda-Cavillo
Bay Point
C27 - Landscaping Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Luis Armando Correa
Hayward
B – General Building Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
Excessive Down Payment
Raul Garcia Guardado
Pittsburg
C33 - Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Pablo Calderon
Oakley
C27 - Landscaping Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Rod Anthony Scardino, Jr.
Antioch
C62/D3 – Awnings Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Anthony Peter Stanko
Antioch
C33 - Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

DAY 2 - OCTOBER 11, 2018
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Jesus Ramirez Rodriguez
Brentwood
C27 - Landscaping Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Aleksey Buynevich
Oakley
C15 - Flooring and Floor Covering Contractors Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Israel Carvalho Leite
El Sobrante
C-61/D6 – Concrete-Related Services Contractor Illegal advertising,
Illegal Use of Contractor’s License Number,
Contracting without a license
Jesus Manuel Villanueva
Antioch
C33 - Painting and Decorating Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
Excessive Down Payment
Kim Thi Tran
Dublin
C27 - Landscaping Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
Excessive Down Payment
Alejandro M. Sanchez
Brentwood
C54 - Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting without a license
Esteban Gomez Romero
San Lorenzo
B – General Building Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Rudiel Siguenza Perez
Antioch
C15 - Flooring and Floor Covering Contractors Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Serafin Villasenor
Antioch
C27 - Landscaping Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

CSLB conducts an average of one sting each week around the state each week 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 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 more than $50 million in ordered restitution for consumers.

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