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19 suspects cited for illegal contracting; 16 found through Craigslist ads

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Posted at 11:44 AM, Jun 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-27 14:47:50-04

Suspected unlicensed workers were invited to place bids on home improvement projects at a single-family home near the Bakersfield Country Club. Investigators with CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) posed as owners of the home as suspects placed bids ranging from $1,000 for tree trimming to $4,320 for concrete work.

After placing these bids, 18 individuals were cited for contracting without a license (Business and Professions Code (BPC) section (§) 7028). A state contractor license is required for any bid that costs $500 or more in labor and/or material costs combined. 

Penalties for first-time unlicensed contracting convictions include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines. A second conviction carries a mandatory 90-day jail sentence. Suspects were cited with help from the Kern County District Attorney’s Office and the California Department of Insurance.

“With so many free and low-cost online resources available, it’s common to find unlicensed and unqualified people using them to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers,” said CSLB Registrar David Fogt. “That’s why it is important that consumers do their research – look for a contractor’s license number in an ad and verify it with CSLB before hiring anyone.”

 Additionally, 18 suspects were cited on a misdemeanor charge of illegal advertising (BPC §7027.1). Contractors are required to put their CSLB license number in all ads. Unlicensed contractors can only advertise for jobs less than $500 and must note in their ads that they are not licensed. The penalty is a fine of up to $1,000.

Twelve suspects caught during the sting for neglecting to purchase workers’ compensation (WC) insurance policies for their employees (Labor Code section 3700.5). If a contractor does not have WC insurance and one of his or her employees gets hurt on the job, the property owner may be liable. Licensed contractors without employees must file a WC exemption with CSLB, which is noted on the license record. The exception is for roofing contractors, who must carry WC insurance, whether they work solo or have employees.

Five of the bidders required an excessive down payment before starting work and were also written-up for that violation. It is illegal for contractors to ask for more than 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less (BPC §7159.5 (a)(3)(b)).

Each suspect is scheduled to appear on September 16, 2017, in Kern County Superior Court, 1215 Truxtun Ave., Division G, Bakersfield, CA 93301.

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

DAY 1

SUSPECT NAME

CITY OF RESIDENCE

LICENSE

CLASSIFICATION

ALLEGED

VIOLATIONS

Victor Miguel Gonzales-Ruano

Bakersfield

C-15 – Flooring and Floor Coverings

Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
No workers’ comp insurance

Alexandro Azael Calderon
Bakersfield

D49- Tree Service

Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
No workers’ comp insurance

Hugo Inga Ramos
Bakersfield

C-8 - Concrete

Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
No workers’ comp insurance

Johnny E. Dawson
Bakersfield

C-33 – Painting and Decorating

Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
No workers’ comp insurance

Derrick Christopher Gomez
Bakersfield

D49- Tree Service

Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

Kevin Toreez Ordonez
Bakersfield

D49- Tree Service

Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

Ricardo Pineda
Bakersfield

D49- Tree Service

Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
No workers’ comp insurance

Richard Anthony Alvarado
Bakersfield

C-36– Plumbing

Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

Aaron Michael Dibble
Bakersfield 

C-13 – Fencing

Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
No workers’ comp insurance

Jose Luis Rubalcaba
Bakersfield 

C-8– Concrete

Illegal advertising,
Excessive down payment
No workers’ comp insurance

 

DAY 2

SUSPECT NAME

CITY OF RESIDENCE

LICENSE

CLASSIFICATION

ALLEGED

VIOLATIONS

Ricardorick Alvarez
Taft

D-28 –Doors, Gates,
& Activating Devices

Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
Excessive down payment

Wendy Julissa Mendoza
Bakersfield

D49- Tree Service

Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
No workers’ comp insurance

Jose Manuel Ruiz Salmeron
Bakersfield

C-33 – Painting and Decorating

Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
Excessive down payment
No workers’ comp insurance

Artemio Cirilo Apolinar
Bakersfield

D49- Tree Service

Contracting without a license

Pedro Chavez
Bakersfield

C-33 – Painting and Decorating

Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
Excessive down payment,
No workers’ comp insurance

Gerardo Ortega Gasca
Bakersfield

D49- Tree Service

Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
No workers' comp insurance

Cristian Gustavo Hernandez Gavidia
Bakersfield

D49- Tree Service

Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

Gabriel Junior Carrajal
J & G Masonry
Bakersfield

C-8– Concrete

Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
Excessive down payment,
No workers’ comp insurance

Isaiah Jacob Sanchez
Shafter

C-36– Plumbing

Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

CSLB encourages consumers to always “Check The License First” by visiting www.cslb.ca.gov or calling its toll-free automated line: 800.321.CSLB (2752). Also, visit CSLB’s website for tips about how to hire a contractor and to sign up for CSLB Email Alerts.

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 2015-16, CSLB helped recover about $41 million in ordered restitution for consumers.

It has become extremely common for people to advertise services through online bulletin boards and using them may seem like an easy solution for consumers seeking contractors to work on their home improvement projects.  

However, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) urges homeowners to do thorough research before hiring people who advertise on these sites to avoid potential scams.  On June 14-15, 2017, CSLB investigators cited 19 people for alleged illegal contracting at an undercover sting. Sixteen of these suspects were found by searching through Craigslist advertisements.