Lake County News,California – Contractors State License Board undercover sting operation catches 11, including repeat offender

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – A state stabbing against unlicensed building contractors in Lake County last month resulted in multiple citations and officials urge local residents to exercise caution in hiring people to work on their homes and properties.

Many Lake County homeowners have faced troubled times in the past few years as the county has experienced several deadly and devastating forest fires.

Much recent attention has been paid in the area to protecting fire survivors from unlicensed contractors.

However, this does not mean that local residents unaffected by the forest fires should forget to check the license before hiring licensed contractors for home improvement projects.

The latest undercover sting by the Contractors State License Board in Clearlake Oaks found 11 suspected unlicensed contractors, one of whom placed a bid for $ 10,000.

The top priority of the company from February 12 to 13 was the installation of fences and was well above the legal limit for contracts without a license.

In California, it is illegal for an unlicensed individual to bid or perform a home improvement item valued at $ 500 or more in combined labor and materials costs.

The alleged unlicensed contractors submitted bids for do-it-yourself jobs, including landscaping, carpentry, tree maintenance and painting.

You will be referred to the Lake County Attorney’s Office for unlicensed contracts (Business and Professions Code (BPC) §7028). Penalties for the first conviction include up to six months in prison and / or fines of up to $ 5,000.

CSLB partnered with the Lake County Attorney’s Office to conduct the undercover operation.

Members of the CSLB Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) posed as owners of a mobile home clubhouse and invited alleged unlicensed contractors to bid for renovation work.

A repeat offender was among those affected.

Ronald Dean Ridley was charged with illegal advertising in January 2016 and received a civil penalty of $ 400.

In October 2018, Ridley was named for signing an unlicensed contract in an earlier sting in Lake County. This case is pending with the Lake County Attorney’s Office.

A conviction on this charge could give Ridley a more severe sentence on the second conviction, which could result in a mandatory 90 day prison sentence and a fine of 20 percent of the contract price or $ 5,000, whichever is greater, according to the Business and Professions Code Section 7028 (c)).

Among the people cited for illegal contracts, four planned to provide tree services for the sting site.

“Felling and removing trees is a highly skilled business that can result in serious injury,” said CSLB Registrar David Fogt. “Illegal tree work can cause property damage to consumers and potentially fatal to those who are not properly licensed.”

In addition to a CSLB license, employees must also have employee compensation insurance. Without it, a homeowner could be held liable for medical bills if someone is injured on their property. Because they were not legally licensed to perform the work, a homeowner’s insurance policy may not apply.

For information on employee compensation insurance from a licensed contractor, visit the CSLB website using the Instant License Review feature.

Consumers can verify a contractor’s license by finding their license number, name, or company name. In addition to the information on employee compensation, the search results also show whether the contractor’s license is active and in good condition. On the contractor’s individual page, information on bonds is also listed and whether CSLB has taken action against the contractor’s license.

Seven people could also be charged with wrongdoing for illegal advertising. Unlicensed contractors must indicate on all advertisements that they do not have a license. The penalty for violating the advertising rules for unlicensed contractors is $ 700 to $ 1,000.

When hiring a contractor, consumers should also remember:

– Take care of your deposit. The legal limit for a deposit is 10 percent of the contract price or $ 1,000, whichever is lower.
– You should always get three quotes from licensed contractors before hiring someone to do home improvement.
– Homeowners can use the CSLB’s Find My Licensed Contractor feature to create and download a list of qualified licensed contractors in their area.
– Those interested in a license for contractors are asked to take part in one of our licensing workshops.

All subjects were instructed to appear before the Lake County Supreme Court at 8:15 a.m. on March 24

The subjects and the alleged violations against them are listed below.

CLEARLAKE OAKS, DAY 1: February 12, 2020

– Tommy Bruce Chisam, Clearlake Oaks; Contract without a license, landscaping.
– Ronald Dean Ridley Sr., Clearlake Oaks; illegal advertising, unlicensed contracts, carpentry.
– Jose Samuel Gamez-Meza, Clearlake; illegal advertising, unlicensed contracts, tree maintenance.
– Servando Juarez Flores dba Pimentels Hofservice, Clearlake; Illegal advertising, contracting without a license, fencing.
– Keith Walter Holmgren, Santa Rosa; illegal advertising, unlicensed contracts, tree maintenance.

CLEARLAKE OAKS, DAY 2: February 13, 2020

– Jeffrey Scott Wilder, Lake Superior; illegal advertising, contract without a license, painting.
– Kristy Ann Buettner, Lakeport; Contract without a license, painting.
– Edilberto Lopez Perez, Kelseyville; illegal advertising, unlicensed contracts, carpentry.
– Rodney Jerome Gehlen Jr., Clearlake; Contract without a license, painting.
– Eric Michael Hamlin, Santa Rosa; illegal advertising, unlicensed contracts, tree maintenance.
– Robert Lloyd Fouche, Santa Rosa; Contract without a license, tree maintenance.

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