On March 4th, 2014

Suspected Illegal Contractor Held At Gunpoint Undercover Sting In Pioneer

During an eight-hour undercover sting conducted  by the  Contractors State License Board (CSLB)  in Pioneer February 25, 2014, investigators  approached a suspected unlicensed contractor who  refused to cooperate, ran from investigators, locked himself in his vehicle  and made threatening movements.  Officers held the man at gunpoint.  He was just one of six  suspects cited for illegally operating as a contractor.

Of the six suspects, one  man was on probation for making terrorists threats, another suspect had a  prior criminal history as a sex offender and two other suspects had been arrested in previous CSLB stings.

"This is a sample of the types of individuals who are not licensed by the State of California, either because they haven't bothered to take the steps, don't meet the requirements, or a license has been denied or revoked," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona.  "These are not individuals you want working in or around your home or in or around your children."

CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) held the operation at a single-family home along Highway 88. Investigators requested bids for deck repair, landscaping, and exterior painting. High bids received during the sting were $6,000 for deck repair, and a $4,200 bid for exterior paint. Suspected unlicensed operators were found advertising on flyers, newspapers, and online bulletin boards, including craigslist.org.

All six suspects received misdemeanor citations for contracting without a license.  In California, all home improvement jobs valued at $500 or more (combined labor and material costs) must be conducted by a company or person with a CSLB-issued license. First-conviction penalties for contracting without a license include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines. Penalties escalate with successive violations.

Four suspects were cited on a misdemeanor charge of illegal advertising. State law requires contractors to place 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.

The sting was conducted with assistance from Amador County District Attorney investigators and the Department of Insurance. 

The suspects cited were identified as:

  • Don A. Sternick

          Sutter Creek

  • Armand Leo Chournard

          West Point

  • Gary Jack Shroyer


  • Michael Joseph Vasquez


  • Matthew Brian Ramos


  • Robert Darin Kintigh


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