Seventy-five people may face criminal charges after being caught in six simultaneous statewide undercover sting operations conducted October 9 and October 10, 2013 by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB).
Among those arrested during CSLB’s fall California Blitz were two registered sex offenders; two people with several prior felonies including robbery, rape, burglary and drug possession; three who had an active arrest warrant; and several caught using contractor license numbers not belonging to them. Three of the suspects were taken to jail.
"These are people that unsuspecting consumers are hiring to work in their homes and around their families," said Alan Barcelona, president of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA). "Our members in CSLB and other state agencies team up to tackle this illegal activity and to protect consumers."
Investigators from CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) teamed up with state and local law enforcement agencies and conducted stings in Clovis, Ontario, Roseville, Seaside, South Lake Tahoe and in the area burned in the recent Silver Fire near Banning.
SWIFT investigators posed as homeowners seeking bids for home improvements such as painting, electrical, plumbing, landscaping, flooring, drywall, fencing, concrete, and tree removal work. Of the 75 individuals arrested, 72 now may face misdemeanor charges for contracting without a license. The penalty for a conviction is up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
Blitz totals may increase as some suspects are expected to provide their bids to undercover investigators via email or fax at a later date. A majority of those caught this week were identified through illegal ads posted on craigslist.
- Arrest of suspect Ronald Keith Woodruff, a convicted sex offender previously cited by CSLB for unlicensed activity
- Arrest of suspect David Balladres, who had an arrest warrant for a parole violation and was taken to jail
- Arrest of suspect Ephraim Galindo, whose license was revoked in 1997
Banning/Poppet Flats (Silver Fire Burn Area)
- Arrest of suspect who is licensed in Arizona and posted his business card on a community bulletin board
- Arrest of a suspect who has an open complaint against him with CSLB
- Arrest of suspect Raymond Gabriel Vera, Jr. and an employee for drug possession; both were taken to jail
- Arrest of suspect David Jose Torres, a registered sex offender
- Arrest of suspect Noe Arjona Fernandez who previously had been convicted of robbery, rape, burglar, and injury to a child
- Arrest of suspect Matthew Michael Winter, whose license expired in 2007; he was taken to jail on a DUI arrest warrant
- Arrest of suspect Manuel Cardenas Castro, caught contracting without a license in a CSLB sweep in 1997
- Arrest of two suspects (Omar Flores, Jose Garifias Espinoza) previously cited by CSLB for contracting without a license. Neither has paid his civil penalty.
- Arrest of suspect with $7,500 arrest warrant for driving under the influence. He also was driving with a suspended driver’s license.
South Lake Tahoe
- Arrest of suspect who recently attended an outreach event about proper contracting and CSLB sting operations