On January 25th, 2013

On Their Side Now: Former Phony Contractor Tips Off Investigators

Talk about converting  someone.  A former illegal contractor, now operating legally as a licensed contractor,  helped state investigators in their undercover sting last week by tipping them off to someone else breaking the law.

Investigators with the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) posed as homeowners at a house in Merced and sought bids for various work projects.  Their convert tipped them off to Jose De Jesus Escobar.  When Escobar arrived and bid on a project, CSLB investigators popped him for contracting without a license.  He also went to jail on a no-bail arrest warrant from Colusa County for violating probation after a DUI conviction, according to a CSLB press release.

A total of four people were busted in the sting operation,  January 17, 2013.  The charges include contracting without a license, illegal advertising and no workers' compensation insurance.  One unlicensed contractor requested an excessive down payment for a proposed job.   State law prohibits asking for or receiving down payments larger than 10 percent of the contract price or $1,000, whichever is less.

CSLB investigators, members of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA), have been working continuously to put a stop to this type of illegal activity which can cost consumers thousands of dollars.

"These investigators are really a consumer's best friend," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona.  "A homeowner can run into all kinds of unexpected trouble and expenses by hiring an unlicensed contractor."

Some of the people CSLB investigators have cited in previous sting operations included repeat offenders, people who had warrants out for their arrest and convicted felons.

In the last fiscal year, CSLB helped recover nearly $36 million in ordered restitution for consumers. 

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