Two Baldwin Park men were among 18 others caught in a two-day sting in South Pasadena of unlicensed contractors.
Jose Refugio Castillo-Vidal, 45-year-old and Crispin Gallegos, 49, faces misdemeanor charges of suspicion of contracting without a license and advertising illegally, among others, according to a news release.
Castillo-Vidal was listed as painter and Gallegos as a tree service man.
The Contractors State License Board’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team teamed up with the South Pasadena Police Department, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, the Employment Development Department, and the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement on last week’s sting, which targeted those believed to be violating state contractor license, labor, and employment laws.
“This operation’s results are exactly why CSLB stresses how important it is for consumers to check the license of anybody they plan to hire for home improvement jobs on their property,” said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. “It only takes a few minutes to use our Instant License Check online or call our automated toll-free line to verify that a contractor has a California license and workers’ compensation insurance for employees.”
Investigators solicited bids from suspected unlicensed contractors for painting, flooring, drywall, and tree services at a home built in the 1920s, authorities said. Those who submitted bids of more than $500 for labor and materials received notices to appear in court on misdemeanor charges of contracting without a license (Business and Professions Code section 7028). Some face additional charges for Business and Professions Code violations including soliciting excessive down payments (7159.5(a)(3)(b)), and illegal advertising (7027.1).
Under California law, home improvement contractors cannot solicit a bid for more than 10 percent of the contract price or $1,000, whichever is less. An exception to that law exists for two dozen licensees who purchase blanket performance and payment bonds that provide additional protection for consumers who pay down payments greater than 10 percent.
State law also mandates that contractors include their license numbers in all advertisements. Those who are unlicensed may advertise and do home improvement jobs for less than $500, but their ads must state that they are not licensed contractors.
“Consumers face undue financial risk by allowing workers who aren’t covered by a workers’ compensation policy onto their property, as the homeowner could be held liable if a worker is injured while performing the job,” the CSLB warns in a news release. “Unlicensed, uninsured operators who pay employees in cash also compete unfairly with contractors who follow state laws and regulations, and cheat all Californians who pay taxes on their wages.”