News

Contractors cited for fraud in East Palo Alto sting

None allegedly had licenses; one could face a more serious charge

A two-day sting operation in East Palo Alto resulted in the 15 people being cited for alleged contractor fraud, the California Contractors State License Board announced on Thursday.

Last week, investigators from the Licensing Board's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team posed as homeowners and invited contractors to a single-family home near Facebook's headquarters. Fifteen people placed bids on services that included concrete paving, general building, electrical, tree services, plumbing, masonry, cabinet and milling, fencing and painting. The proposed work ranged between $1,000 and $12,500.

The cited contractors allegedly exceeded the state's $500 threshold for combined labor and materials for unlicensed handypersons, above which they are required to have a contractor's license, board officials said in a statement.

All 15 were cited for contracting without a license; 14 were also cited for illegal advertising. A first conviction for misdemeanor contracting without a license can result in up to six months in jail or up to $5,000 in fines or both. A second conviction carries a mandatory sentence of 90 days in jail. Violating the advertising rules for unlicensed contractors result in a fine of $700 to $1,000.

One of those cited could face a more serious felony charge for allegedly using else's license. If convicted, that individual could face up to a year in jail and $10,000 in fines, officials said.

A licensing board official made it clear that the state does not tolerate unlicensed contracting.

"Any way you work it, the law is clear. Contractor licenses cannot be 'shared,'" said Dave Fogt, the board registrar. "Unlicensed contractors cannot legally perform work that costs $500 or more and must state in all advertisements that they are not unlicensed. If they choose not to abide by these rules then they should find another line of work."

The 15 people came from Sunnyvale, Newark, Ione, Burlingame, San Francisco, Castro Valley, Hayward, San Mateo, Campbell, San Jose, Millbrae and Redwood City. Only one was from East Palo Alto, according to licensing board officials.

The East Palo Alto Police Department and the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office assisted in the sting operation.

Those cited are scheduled to appear in San Mateo County Superior Court on Feb. 14.

Contractors State License Board officials said consumers should always "Check The License First" by visiting cslb.ca.gov or call the toll-free automated line: 800-321-CSLB (2752). Tips on how to hire a contractor, and to sign up for alerts can be found on the website.

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Comments

6 people like this
Posted by commonsense
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 12, 2017 at 10:38 pm

Im sure they we cited and released so that they could get back to their daily operation for the local real estate crowd...


9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 12, 2017 at 11:10 pm

Why have we never seen a sting take place in Palo Alto? Because the wealthy would never let that happen. The local real estate crowd are the ones that need to be arrested.


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 12, 2017 at 11:18 pm

Here is a list of alleged violators:

DAY 1
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Villanueva Gonzalez Rodriguez
Sunnyvale D-49 - Tree Service Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Christian Michelle Gallego LARA
Newark C-36 Plumbing Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Brandon O'Neil
Ione C-13 Fencing Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Paul Joseph Prendiville
Bulingamer C-6 - Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Jorge Ruiz Paris
San Francisco C-33 - Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Jose C. Castellanos Reina
Castro Valley B-General Building Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Rafael Martinez
Hayward C-10- Electrical Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Pasimi Vaea
E. Palo Alto C-8-Concrete Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

DAY 2
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Ivan Jr. Sanchez
San Mateo C-29-Masonry Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Enrique Federico Ayala
Campbell B-General Builder Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Jose Bahamas
San Jose B-General Builder Contracting without a license
Patrick David Hauser
San Jose D-49-Tree Services Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Michael James Hughes
Millbrae C-13-Fencing Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Hien Xuan Mai
Hayward C-8-Concrete Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Jasom Mikel Haggard
Redwood City C-36-Plumbing Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising


3 people like this
Posted by No real recourse
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2017 at 11:45 pm

"A licensing board official made it clear that the state does not tolerate unlicensed contracting."

That's right. They only tolerate shoddy work and overcharging by LICENSED contractors!


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 13, 2017 at 6:29 am

@ No real recourse

Sounds like you have always chosen the lowest bid. As far as overcharging goes, the real Estate crowd wants millions for their properties, and pay $10 an hour for their workers. What are all these workers going to do when it is time to retire? How about medical? These low paid workers use up Medi-Cal at the benefit of the Real Estate crowd (and others) and at the detrimate of the rest of the middle class. Just so you can have granite countertops?


4 people like this
Posted by Scheff
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2017 at 7:39 am

So were spending tax dollars to go after the working class, that's great.


14 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 13, 2017 at 10:49 am

No, it is to protect law abiding citizens, on both sides. That is why we have inspections.You would not want your house to fall down in an earthquake, due to shoddy construction? Those poor kids at the school in Mexico City might still be alive today if it was not for the shoddy construction due in part to corruption.

Think about it, this is why we have laws.





3 people like this
Posted by Old Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2017 at 11:55 am

These people obviously want to work. Why no put them in mandatory licensing classes?


5 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2017 at 5:27 pm

These don't sound like criminals. Leave them alone.


3 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 13, 2017 at 8:51 pm

@ Online Name

Usually first time offenders are given a chance to get their contractors licence. They might get away with a small infraction. However, if you have a past criminal record,and/ or are undocumented it is much more difficult to obtain. It is still possible to obtain even with these hurdles.

These laws are to protect the consumer, not so much for the contractor. I find it strange that some bloggers are against this law.


Like this comment
Posted by Gunn Dad
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 14, 2017 at 3:16 pm

Gunn Dad is a registered user.

Google "regulatory capture". e.g. Web Link

Economics deniers on this topic should read Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 14, 2017 at 4:49 pm

@ Gunn daddy

This would be fine if we had enforced regulations in regards to immigration.


2 people like this
Posted by 9 Juan Juan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 17, 2017 at 10:28 am

@ "Online Name"
Very clever of you to sneak in Mexico City earthquakes victims in your rant to justify these types of sting operations. Last time I checked, the Mexican pyramids were still standing. Look, let's not get away from the point here. This operation is similar to those "bait car" operations where they place the car in a low-income neighborhood. Why not have this sting operation in Palo Alto? How many contractors hire low wage undocumented workers to maximize their profits? Shame!


Like this comment
Posted by Randy
a resident of Woodside
on Oct 17, 2017 at 12:44 pm

[Portion removed.] Going after hardworking people. Wasting tax dollars and people who are trying to make a honest living. Some peopls dont have the tools needed in order to get a liscens. This sucks man. [Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 17, 2017 at 6:57 pm

@ 9 Jaun Jaun

There should be a sting in Palo Alto. I say throw all the real estate crowd in jail for hiring undocumented workers. I am for making these folks legal so they can pay there fair share in taxes. We know that will never happen.

The only thing shameful, is the abuse of all these hard workers. But I guess you must employ many.


5 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 17, 2017 at 10:53 pm

@ Randy

SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- With an increase in home remodeling, the California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors (CALPASC) is urging homeowners to think twice before hiring contractors who may be members of the underground or semi-underground economies for remodeling projects. California law holds that a "significant residential remodel," defined as projects including demolition and rebuilding a significant portion of the house, and new construction fall under Cal/OSHA safety regulations. As such, the homeowner is treated as an employer and required to furnish a safe place of employment. Like other employers, homeowners hiring an unlicensed independent contractor, who may hire subcontractors, will be held responsible for the workers' safety (see California Labor Code Section 2750.5), and an injured worker can bring a lawsuit against a homeowner and use evidence of the homeowner's violation of the Cal/OSHA regulations to show the homeowner is at fault.


Like this comment
Posted by Ivan Sanchez Victim
a resident of another community
on Oct 28, 2017 at 1:36 pm

[Post removed.]


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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