Six Madera County noncompliant contractors have been cited by the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) after a sting operation in Coarsegold Oct. 15 and 16.
The undercover sting operation took place at a home near Yosemite Lakes Park by the statewide Investigative Fraud Team, with assistance from the Madera County Sheriff’s Department, the California Highway Patrol, and Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
The investigators, posing as homeowners, called suspected illegal contractors who had advertised in a newspaper, with flyers, business cards, and craigslist.org to find out if they were interested in bidding for landscaping, tree service, painting, concrete, or electrical work.
Bids ranged from about $900 to $6,000 for a landscaping project. In California, all home improvement jobs valued at $500 or more (combined labor and material costs) must be performed by a company or person with a CSLB-issued license.
The operation caught three landscapers, two tree trimmers, and one general building contractor who were operating without a license. Two of the landscapers, Daniel Chesterman and Stephanie Orcutt, both of North Fork, were also cited for displaying a license not belonging to them.
Gary Smith (tree trimmer) and Bonifacio Rivas (landscaping), both of Coarsegold, and John Skinner of Raymond, and Juan Alapisco (tree trimmer) of Madera were cited for contracting without a license. The six Madera County individuals were among 16 cited for illegal contracting, with 10 being nabbed from surrounding counties.
State law requires contractors to include their license number in all print, broadcast, and online advertisements. Those without a license can advertise for jobs valued at less than $500, but the ad must state that they are not a licensed contractor.
CSLB encourages consumers to always “Check The License First” by visiting www.cslb.ca.gov or calling CSLB’s toll-free automated line at: 800-321-CSLB (2757). 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 about 290,000 contractors in California, and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. In fiscal year 2013-14, CSLB helped recover nearly $51 million in ordered restitution for consumers.
All suspects must answer to illegal contracting charges at 9 a.m. on Dec. 16 or 18, in Madera County Superior Court, Bass Lake.