SACRAMENTO – On February 4-5, 2020, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) conducted undercover stings in Union City and Redding, catching a total of 28 people suspected of contracting without a license.
In the Union City sting, Taynara Bueno de Sousa-Melo a bid of $30,000 for a combination asphalt and paver project. $30,000 is well over the legal limit for contracting without a license. In California, it's illegal for an unlicensed person to bid for or perform any home improvement valued at $500 or more in combined labor and material costs.
Bueno de Sousa-Melo and 15 other alleged unlicensed contractors gave bids at the Union City site for home improvement jobs, including general building, electrical, plumbing, fencing, HVAC, concrete, earthwork and carpentry. The suspected unlicensed contractors are referred to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office for possible prosecution. First-conviction penalties include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines.
CSLB partnered with the Alameda County D.A.’s office and the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Division of Investigation (DOI) to conduct the undercover operation. CSLB Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) members posed as owners of a four-bedroom residence and invited alleged unlicensed contractors to place bids on home improvement work.
One repeat offender was among those caught in the Union City operation. Eddy Amdrocio was cited for illegal contracting after a San Leandro sting last November. That case is pending with the Alameda County D.A.’s Office. After being ensnared in this latest sting, Amdrocio could face a more severe second conviction penalty, which could result in a mandatory 90 days in jail, and a fine of 20 percent of the contract price or $5,000, whichever is greater.
Also, in Union City, two individuals cited for illegal contracting were incorrectly using a CSLB license number or using a license number that did not belong to them. They face a penalty for fraudulent use of an incorrect license number.
In the Redding operation, 12 people were busted for contracting without a license. Investigators posed as the owners of a three-bedroom house and sought bids on projects such as tree removal, painting, deck construction, and fencing. Bids ranged from $600 to $9,000 – all over the legal limit for contracting without a license.
“Consumers should always check CSLB’s website to verify they are hiring a licensed contractor and one who carries workers’ compensation insurance if the contractor hired uses workers,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “Because not all consumers know to do that, and because licensed contractors lose out when unlicensed contractors come in with lower bids, CSLB investigators work to educate the public and enforce the law. Hiring a licensed contractor protects the property owner from possible financial harm and shoddy work with no resolution.”