SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Contractors State License Board (CSLB) investigators recently carried out an undercover sting operation in six California counties where 75 contractors were arrested and may face criminal charges. CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team posed as homeowners and sought bids for home improvements covering a variety of trades as well as tree removal work. CSLB staff coordinated the operation with various state and local law enforcement agencies and district attorneys.
Of those caught, two are registered sex offenders; two have several prior felonies, including robbery, rape, burglary and drug possession; and three have an active arrest warrant. Several of the arrestees were using other contractors' license numbers, and some of them also may be charged for contracting without a license, illegal advertising, failing to carry workers' compensation coverage for employees and requesting an excessive down payment, which by law cannot exceed 10 percent of the contract or $1,000, whichever is less.
Representatives from several construction associations issued the following statements about the sting operation:
Brad Diede, Executive Director, California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors (CALPASC)
"Coordinated efforts must continue to focus on small construction projects, not just large commercial and private projects, that put the public at risk. There are plenty of properly licensed contractors who perform safe, quality work. Homeowners put themselves at risk by taking the lowest bid without checking a contractor's license.
"CSLB continues to make great strides combatting the underground economy by effectively coordinating with state and local enforcement personnel, seeking legislative changes to help with construction enforcement and working with the public to improve their efforts."
Cindy Carey, Chief Operating Officer, Starburst Construction, and Chair of the Board of Directors, Silicon Valley Chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry
"Although legitimate contractors enhance the professionalism, performance and perception of the remodeling industry; unfortunately, these swindlers damage the reputation of our industry. We will continue supporting enforcement agencies working together to catch fraudulent actors and create a safer environment for the public where legitimate contractors have an opportunity for work."
Terry W. Osburn, Vice President, Wm. B. Saleh Co. Bakersfield and Immediate Past President, Painting and Decorating Contractors of California, Inc.
"Although it's appealing to use unlicensed contractors during these difficult economic times, consumers must realize they are putting themselves at risk as well as unlicensed contractors' employees. And, it takes work away from legitimate contractors who are protecting the economy, their employees and the consumer. When one is harmed, all are harmed. We are grateful for the efforts of the CSLB to uncover and pursue unlicensed contractors who continue to undermine the economy and the professionalism of our trades."
J.T. Bradley, President, Bradley Builders, and Past President of the Sacramento Chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry
"We work hard to promote professionalism, education and ethics within the construction remodeling industry and our communities. We welcome these ramped-up efforts by enforcement agencies. There is no reason homeowners have to turn toward charlatans to work on their homes."
Kate Leyden, Executive Director, Valley Contractors Exchange
"With increasing interest in home remodeling and repairs, opportunists are poised to take advantage of homeowners. We applaud the coordinated efforts of statewide agencies to apprehend unlawful contractors and urge consumers to educate and protect themselves by checking contractors' licenses."
Ryan Holmes, President, Accel Framing, Inc.
"Legitimate construction contractors abound. Homeowners should do their homework and consult with local construction associations to identify valid contractors. Legitimate contractors support all enforcement efforts to eliminate the underground economy."
SOURCE California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors (CALPASC)