CSLB Discovers Illegal Contractors Flooding San Diego While Homeowners Prepare for El Nino

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Two-day sting catches 15 illegal operators, including three repeat offenders and a Most Wanted suspect

SACRAMENTO  –  Forecasters have been warning West Coast residents to prepare for heavy rain and flooding from this season’s El Niño weather pattern. Along with these warnings, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) urges homeowners to be cautious of unlicensed workers advertising for roof repairs and other flood prevention jobs. Fifteen unlicensed contractors were caught during a two-day sting in San Diego this week, proving that many illegal operators are taking this as opportunity to prey on consumers preparing for storms.

On January 26-27, 2016, investigators with CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) invited suspects to a single-family home in Tierrasanta to place bids for home improvement projects that included replacing a leaking garage roof, new concrete with drains to prevent flooding, wooden fence replacement, and non-storm jobs such as flooring and ornamental metal railings. Investigators used leads from Craigslist, local newspaper ads, and previous complaints to target suspected unlicensed contractors.

SWIFT investigators found a few suspects who didn’t learn from their previous mistakes. Three suspects were cited during previous CSLB stings on illegal contracting charges. With the assistance of the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office and California Highway Patrol officers, investigators discovered a suspect caught during the sting operation, Breck Pemberton, has active arrest warrants in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. He admitted to taking $9,700 for a job he never started. Pemberton is currently on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Wanted Persons list for larceny. Unfortunately, Florida will only pay for extradition from surrounding states, not across the country.

Each suspect caught in this week’s operation was given a misdemeanor citation for contracting without a license (Business and Professions Code (BPC) section (§) 7028) after placing bids ranging from $1,200 for re-roofing to $9,000 for concrete work.  A state contractor license is required for any bid that is $500 or more for the total costs of labor and material.

One suspect who was scheduled to place a bid for a kitchen remodel noticed a tarp placed over the leaking roof and offered to do that work instead.

“We understand the sense of urgency consumers have to make sure their homes are protected from the rain and possible floods,” said CSLB Registrar Cindi Christenson. “But it’s very important to take the time to check the license first and find qualified licensed contractors for these types of home improvement jobs.”

Twelve suspects were also cited for a misdemeanor charge of illegal advertising (BPC §7027.1). State law requires unlicensed contractors to state in all advertising that they are not licensed.

One of the 15 suspects was also given a citation for charging an excessive down payment (BPC §7159.5 (a)(3)(b). A down payment for home improvement projects can be no more than 10 percent of the total contract price or $1,000, whichever is less.

The suspects are scheduled to appear on March 21, 22, and 23, 2016, in San Diego County Superior Court, 220 W. Broadway, Dept. 1, San Diego, CA 92101. (MAP).

NOTE:  All suspects are presumed innocent until their case is resolved.

DOWNLOAD: Sting Operation Still Photos

DAY 1

SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE
CLASSIFICATION
ALLEGED
VIOLATIONS
Daniel Flores Bernal
Bernal’s Concrete
Lemon Grove
C-8 – Concrete Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Kiet T. Duong
Pro Fencing
San Diego
C-13 – Fencing Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Timothy Lee Dye
San Diego
C-39 – Roofing Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Humberto Miguel Elvira
Home Repairs
San Diego
C-39 – Roofing Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Santiago Jimenez
Spring Valley
C-8 – Concrete Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Joseph Eric Linn
Escondido
C-39 – Roofing Contracting without a license
Humberto Munoz
San Diego
C-8 – Concrete Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Breck Douglas Pemberton
San Diego
C-8 – Concrete Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

 

DAY 2

SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE
CLASSIFICATION
ALLEGED
VIOLATIONS
Andrew Appleby
All American Hardwoods
San Diego
C-15 – Flooring and Floor Covering Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Arnulfo Castillo Garcia
Escondido
B – General Building Contracting without a license
Adan Rios-Hernandez
All American Hardwoods
San Diego
C-23 – Ornamental Metal Contractor Contracting without a license
Randall Dean Houser
Spring Valley
B – General Building Contracting without a license
Pablo Rivas
SteelWorks
National City
C-23 – Ornamental Metal Contractor Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Carlos M. Soliz
Wildomar
C-8 – Concrete Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising,
Excessive down payment
David Quezada
San Diego
C-13 – Fencing Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

 

CSLB encourages consumers to always “Check The License First” by visiting www.cslb.ca.gov or calling its toll-free automated line: 800.321.CSLB (2752). 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 2014-15, CSLB helped recover nearly $68 million in ordered restitution for consumers.

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