BAKERSFIELD – An unlicensed contractor who had been cited repeatedly by Contractors State License Board (CSLB) investigators for illegal contracting, and who victimized Spanish-speaking residents in Bakersfield, has been sentenced to eight months in jail and ordered to pay restitution of up to $90,000 to his victims. Jose Villegas Chavez, 33, pleaded guilty to a felony theft charge and a workers’ compensation insurance violation as part of a plea agreement and was sentenced on May 13, 2016.
The plea agreement consolidated nine previous misdemeanor unlicensed contracting cases against him, as well as other charges, according to court records. Chavez also was sentenced to a five-year supervised probation term, and ordered not to contract without a license and to carry workers' comp insurance if, as a licensed contractor, he brings employees to a construction job.
"CSLB investigators work to protect consumers from unlicensed contractors such as Chavez," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. "Homeowners who are working to keep their homes nice and also safe for their families, shouldn't be victimized by someone willing to take their money for nothing."
According to CSLB investigators, Chavez circulated within the local Latino community advertising his general contracting services. Once he got a job, he demanded and received large down payments to start work. He then abandoned some projects after the first day, reports said. When victims complained about his tactics, Chavez used the threat of deportation to silence them.
Chavez caught CSLB’s attention in 2010, after several consumers in the Bakersfield area lodged complaints against him. The pattern of complaints and unlicensed contracting citations continued against Chavez until his apprehension earlier this year.
“We appreciate the work of the criminal justice officials in Kern County who made sure this unlicensed contractor was punished for his crimes and did not get away with his threats and intimidation,” said CSLB Registrar Cindi Christenson. “It’s also important to note the hard work that CSLB investigators have put in to apprehend this person who was endangering and victimizing consumers in Kern County.”