CSLB Press Release – 12/14/10
CSLB Sting Snatches Nine Illegal Operators in Glendora
SACRAMENTO — The Contractors State License Board’s (CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) caught nine people for violating state home improvement contracting laws during an undercover sting on December 13, 2010. SWIFT was assisted by the California Highway Patrol and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
During the sting operation at a Glendora home, SWIFT investigators posed as homeowners seeking bids for painting, fencing, flooring, and cabinetry projects. Suspects who bid more than $500 for labor and materials received a notice to appear (NTA) in court. Registered sex offender Richard Charles Rupp was among those detained in the operation. Rupp, 51, of Long Beach, also has a prior conviction for contracting without a license and had a $10,000 arrest warrant for theft. Ronald Eugene Williams, 44, of Temple City, had a $10,000 arrest warrant for driving under the influence.
“Homeowners need to be fully aware of who they are letting into their homes,” said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. “This operation illustrates the importance of spending a couple of minutes on CSLB’s website to check the license before you hire a contractor to ensure you aren’t putting your family or your home at risk.”
California law requires all home improvement jobs valued at more than $500 to be undertaken by a licensed contractor. Contractors also must place their state license number in all advertisements. Unlicensed individuals may advertise and accept jobs valued at less than $500, but their ads must state that they are not a licensed contractor. State law prohibits solicitation of a down payment that is greater than 10 percent of the project’s value or $1,000, whichever is less, for home improvement contracts. There is an exception for about two dozen licensed contractors who purchase special consumer protection bonds and are noted on CSLB’s website. State law also requires those selling home improvement services for licensed contractors to register with CSLB.
Since 2005, state law has required criminal background checks for anyone applying for a new license or adding a license classification. California law also requires contractors to have workers’ compensation coverage for all of their employees to protect homeowners from liability.
The following suspects who received NTAs will be arraigned in the Los Angeles County Superior Court facility at 1427 West Covina Parkway on February 15 and 16, 2011, at 8:30 a.m.:
|SUSPECTNAME & CITY||AGE||CLASSIFICATION||VIOLATIONS|
|Jesus Rocha Solis
|56||Flooring and Floor Covering||Contracting without a license; illegal advertising|
|Fong Chong Lo
|60||Painting||Contracting without a license; illegal advertising; soliciting excessive down payment|
|48||Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry||Contracting without a license; illegal advertising; soliciting excessive down payment|
|40||Flooring and Floor Covering||Contracting without a license|
|Adrian Gaona Avalos
|40||General Construction||Unregistered Home Improvement Salesperson|
|Richard Charles Rupp
|51||Flooring and Floor Covering||Contracting without a license (repeat offender); registered sex offender; $10,000 warrant for theft.|
|Ronald Eugene Williams, IV
|44||Painting||Contracting without a license; illegal advertising; soliciting excessive down payment; $10,000 warrant for DUI.|
|Thomas Jacob Eby
|40||Fencing||Contracting without a license; illegal advertising|
|Jose Luis Delgadillo-Parra
|22||Painting||Contracting without a license; illegal advertising; soliciting excessive down payment|
CSLB urges consumers to remember the following tips when hiring a contractor:
- Verify the contractor’s license by checking online at www.cslb.ca.gov, or through CSLB’s automated phone system at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752).
- Ask to see the person’s identification to make sure you are dealing with the correct individual.
- Don’t pay more than 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less. There is an exception to this for about two dozen contractors who purchase special bonds that are noted on CSLB’s website.
- Don’t pay in cash, and don’t let the payments get ahead of the work.
- Check references, and get at least three bids and a written contract before your project begins.
- Make sure your contractor obtains the necessary building permits for any project. If you are unsure of these requirements, contact your local building department.
The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. More information and publications about hiring contractors are available on the CSLB website or by calling 800-321-CSLB (2752). You can also sign up for CSLB e-mail alerts at www.cslb.ca.gov. CSLB licenses and regulates California’s more than 300,000 contractors, and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. In fiscal year 2009-10, CSLB helped recover nearly $42 million in ordered restitution for consumers..